An asteroid between 13 and 29 feet in diameter – roughly the size of a three-story building – is expected to pass Earth this weekend from 134,000 miles away, which is a little more than half the distance to the moon.
The asteroid, called 2023 MU2, will make its closest approach to Earth on Sunday at 7:19 p.m. ET and will be viewable via a livestream from the Virtual Telescope Project.
MU2 was discovered just a week ago and was confirmed by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, Space.com first reported.
An asteroid passing by earth isn’t rare – in fact, 2023 MU2 will be just one of several asteroids passing Earth this weekend, including a car-sized rock that came even closer at 77,000 miles on Friday and a bus-sized asteroid passing within 162,000 miles on Saturday, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The Dimorphous asteroid, one of the asteroids expected to pass Earth this weekend from a much greater distance, is roughly the size of a stadium. NASA deliberately crashed an object into it to change its trajectory last year even though it posed no threat to Earth.
“This marks humanity’s first time purposely changing the motion of a celestial object and the first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology,” NASA said in a release at the time.
“All of us have a responsibility to protect our home planet. After all, it’s the only one we have,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at the time. “This mission shows that NASA is trying to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us. NASA has proven we are serious as a defender of the planet. This is a watershed moment for planetary defense and all of humanity, demonstrating commitment from NASA’s exceptional team and partners from around the world.”