Asteroid as wide as a football field has a small chance of hitting Earth in September

Mar 2012
New Hampshire
An asteroid roughly the width of a football field will pass close enough to Earth this year to warrant the attention of the European Space Agency (ESA), though the space rock's actual threat to the planet is minimal.

The asteroid, known as 2006 QV89, is one of 870 objects on the ESA’s risk list, which tracks “all objects for which a non-zero impact probability has been detected.” The asteroid is ranked fourth on the current risk list, but it is the only object in the top 10 with a chance of impacting Earth this year.

The asteroid is about 131 feet in diameter, making it about 30 feet shorter than the width of a football field. According to the ESA’s impact table, 2006 QV89 has a .014 percent chance of impacting Earth on September 9.

In June 2018, NASA released its National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan in an effort to improve the country’s ability to address the hazards of near-Earth objects (NEOs) by, “leveraging and enhancing existing national and international assets and adding important capabilities across government.”

That same report detailed the threat of even small NEOs, such as one in 2013 that created an explosion near Chelyabinsk, Russia, and injured more than 1,100 people. That meteor was only the size of a bus.

Asteroid nearly the width of a football field has small chance of hitting Earth this year