Asteroid bigger than Nelson’s Column speeds past Earth this week, NASA confirms

An asteroid bigger than Nelson's Column will make a near-Earth approach in the early hours of Thursday.

The space rock will rattle past our planet at 5.43am at nearly 40,000mph, according to NASA data.

The US space agency's center for computing asteroid and comet orbits and their odds of Earth impact (CNEOS) is tracking the "near-Earth object".

Its analysis says it measures between 32 m to 71 m in diameter and will stay about 7.5 times further than the Moon on Thursday.

A lunar distance is 238,803miles so that's mind-bogglingly far away but the asteroid's highly elliptical orbit means it will be back.

Its orbit is classed as an "Apollo" by NASA – meaning its trajectory crosses the Earth's orbital plane similar to how a massive 1.5km long rock did in 1862.

The 1862 Apollo has been classed as a "potentially hazardous asteroid" with an orbit that crosses the Earth's own around the Sun, as well as Venus and Mars's.

Scientists have mapped out its trajectory for hundreds of years.

A recent study claimed the asteroid thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs helped to create the world's rainforests.

The impact of the 12km-wide space rock striking Earth 66million years ago is understood to have drastically changed the plant life in South America's tropical rainforests.

  • 'Time traveller' claims huge discovery will be made in 2021 and pinpoints armageddon

More than 56,000 pollen and leaf fossils from Columbia were studied, which revealed a huge shift in the types of vegetation were around before the asteroid hit.

Publishing the findings in the journal Science, co-author Dr Mónica Carvalho, of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution in Panama, wrote: "Our team examined over 50,000 fossil pollen records and more than 6,000 leaf fossils from before and after the impact."

She added: "The lesson learned here is that under rapid disturbances… tropical ecosystems do not just bounce back; they are replaced, and the process takes a really long time,"

  • Terrifying new dinosaur species discovered named 'the one who causes fear'

Conifers and ferns covered the rainforests before the asteroid struck the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, according to the research.

However, many plants, particularly those that bore seeds, were wiped out completely after the deadly impact, with vegetation diversity declining by almost half (45%).

During the next six million years, flowering plants took over, while the once spaced out trees were replaced by dense canopies.

Get latest news headlines delivered free

Want all the latest shocking news and views from all over the world straight into your inbox?

We've got the best royal scoops, crime dramas and breaking stories – all delivered in that Daily Star style you love.

Our great newsletters will give you all you need to know, from hard news to that bit of glamour you need every day. They'll drop straight into your inbox and you can unsubscribe whenever you like.

You can sign up here – you won't regret it…

The devastating impact of the asteroid, known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction event, is believed to have killed off 75% of animals on Earth during the Cretaceous period.

The event is thought to have affected all continents at the same time.

Fossil pollen from New Mexico, Alaska, China, and New Zealand has suggested similar changes to plant life.

Source: Read Full Article