Asteroid ALERT: NASA tracks a 1KM space rock headed on an 'Earth approach'

AN ASTEROID measuring nearly 3,280ft (1km) across and flying faster than 35,500mph (57,240km/h) is en route to approach the planet, space agency NASA has confirmed.

PUBLISHED: 21:07, Tue, Jan 7, 2020 | UPDATED: 21:19, Tue, Jan 7, 2020

The colossal asteroid is big enough to wipe out millions of people should it fly directly into our planet later next month. NASA estimates any asteroid or comet this big can have “worldwide effects” – enough to level entire continents.

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The asteroid, officially dubbed 163373 or 2002 PZ39, is classified as a “potentially hazardous” NEO or Near-Earth Object.

Potentially hazardous asteroids can come “unusually close” to Earth and NASA has found the rock is barreling towards Earth on a “close approach” trajectory.

The close brush with the asteroid is expected to unfold later next month on February 15, 2020.

During the approach, the asteroid will close-in on Earth at speeds of about 15.19km per second or 35,567mph (57,240km/h).

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Asteroid alert: NASA-tracked asteroid in spaceAsteroid alert: A monstrous space rock is flying towards Earth in Ferbruary (Image: GETTY)

Asteroid alert: Giant space rock over EarthAsteroid alert: The space rock is large enough to have 'worldwide effects' upon impact (Image: GETTY)

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NASA said: “Since their orbital paths often cross that of the Earth, collisions with near-Earth objects have occurred in the past and we should remain alert to the possibility of future close Earth approaches.

“It seems prudent to mount efforts to discover and study these objects, to characterise their sizes, compositions and structures and to keep an eye upon their future trajectories.”

Asteroid PZ39 was first confirmed in our solar system on October 23, 1995.

NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) now tracks the colossal space rock as it races around the Sun.

If ample warning is given of an impending collision, NASA said “existing technology could be used to deflect the threatening object from Earth”.

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