The asteroid 2020 ST1 is a monstrous rock which is currently traversing through the solar system. The asteroid is up to 350 metres in length, making it more than three times longer than a football pitch.
According to observations from NASA, the colossal space rock is travelling at 8.1 kilometres per second, or more than 29,000 kilometres per hour.
Asteroid 2020 ST1 will make its closest approach to Earth on Saturday, November 14, although it will miss by a large distance.
NASA monitoring services show that the asteroid will pass more than 19 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, or more than seven million kilometres away.
Nonetheless, NASA believes the asteroid could be ‘potentially hazardous’.
The term ‘potentially hazardous’ refers to the sentiment that somewhere down the line in the solar system’s history, an asteroid could collide with Earth depending on its future orbits of the Sun.
NASA said: “Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth.
“Specifically, all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of 0.05 au or less are considered PHAs.”
The asteroid is also a ‘near Earth Object’ (NEO), which allows NASA to study the history of the solar system.
NASA said on its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) website: “NEOs are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood.
“The scientific interest in comets and asteroids is due largely to their status as the relatively unchanged remnant debris from the solar system formation process some 4.6 billion years ago.
“The giant outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) formed from an agglomeration of billions of comets and the left over bits and pieces from this formation process are the comets we see today.
“Likewise, today’s asteroids are the bits and pieces left over from the initial agglomeration of the inner planets that include Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
“As the primitive, leftover building blocks of the solar system formation process, comets and asteroids offer clues to the chemical mixture from which the planets formed some 4.6 billion years ago.
“If we wish to know the composition of the primordial mixture from which the planets formed, then we must determine the chemical constituents of the leftover debris from this formation process – the comets and asteroids.”