An gigantic asteroid estimated to be 1.2 miles wide will fly by Earth next week on April 29, 2020.
And the space rock appears to be wearing a face mask according to new images from Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
The asteroid is called 52768 (1998 OR2), and it was first spotted in 1998.
On April 29, it will pass within 3,908,791 miles of Earth, moving at 19,461 miles per hour.
That’s still 16 times farther than the distance between Earth and the moon.
If it did impact Earth, the asteroid is “large enough to cause global effects,” according to NASA, back when the asteroid was first discovered.
“The small-scale topographic features such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2 are fascinating scientifically,” said Anne Virkki, head of planetary radar at Arecibo Observatory, in a statement. “But since we are all thinking about the pandemic, these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask.“
The flyby is expected to occur on Wednesday, April 29, at 5:56 a.m. ET.
The asteroid was classified as a potentially hazardous object because it’s bigger than 500 feet and comes within 5 million miles of Earth’s orbit.
In 2079, asteroid 1998 OR2 will pass Earth about 3.5 times closer than it will this year, so it is important to know its orbit precisely.
It’s the largest asteroid expected to zip by Earth within the next two months, but it’s not the largest ever.
That honor belongs to asteroid 3122 Florence (1981 ET3), which flew by and luckily missed colliding with Earth on September 1, 2017.
It will make another pass again on September 2, 2057. That asteroid is estimated to be between two and a half and five and a half miles wide. More asteroid news on Strange Sounds and Steve Quayle. [CNN]