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Astronomers await ‘close approach’ asteroid – 6.3m kilometres away

A 2-kilometre-wide asteroid is expected to make a "close approach" to Earth on Wednesday, even if scientists define such a visit as still 6.3 million kilometres away.

A 2-kilometre-wide asteroid is expected to make a “close approach” to Earth on Wednesday, even if scientists define such a visit as still 6.3 million kilometres away.

Named 1998 OR2, it will be at its closest to Earth around 0955 GMT, at which point it will still be 16 times further away from our planet than the moon, according to the website of NASA, the US space agency.

Scientists first noticed the asteroid in 1998 and have been tracking it since.

“As a result, we understand its orbital trajectory very precisely, and we can say with confidence that this asteroid poses no possibility of impact for at least the next 200 years. Its next close approach to Earth will occur in 2079, when it will pass by closer — only about four times the lunar distance,” read the NASA statement.

It is still considered a “potentially hazardous asteroid,” as slight changes to its orbit could make it an eventual hazard to life on Earth.

The last approach by a major asteroid, Florence, was in September 2017. That heavenly body measures 5 kilometres in width, but was 18 times further away from Earth than the moon.

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