(NEXSTAR) – A “potentially hazardous” asteroid with a diameter roughly the size of Chicago’s Navy Pier is on track to pass Earth on Friday morning.
Known as 138971, or 2001 CB21, by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the asteroid measures between 560 meters and 1.2 kilometers in diameter. That’s anywhere between the size of The Willis Tower and Navy Pier, both found in Chicago.
More specifically, the JPL says 138971’s average diameter is about 742 meters, which is nearly twice the size of the Empire State Building.
While NASA has marked the asteroid as potentially hazardous — because it’s greater than 500 feet in size and passes within 4.7 million miles of Earth’s orbit — it won’t get dangerously close to our planet. According to the JPL’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, the asteroid will be about 3 million miles away from Earth when it passes by.
Asteroid 138971 was discovered in February 2001 and is considered an Apollo-class Asteroid because its orbit crosses that of the Earth, according to NASA. It last passed by Earth in February 2021 and isn’t expected back until February 2023.
There are no asteroids that currently pose a significant risk of impacting Earth within the next 100 years, according to NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
While Earth will be safe from this piece of space rock on Friday, the moon is going to be walloped by 3 tons of space junk that’s certain to leave a crater.
A leftover rocket will hit the far side of the moon at 5,800 mph on Friday, away from telescopes’ prying eyes. It may take weeks, even months, to confirm the impact through satellite images.
It’s been tumbling haphazardly through space, experts believe, since China launched it nearly a decade ago. But Chinese officials are dubious it’s theirs.
No matter whose it is, scientists expect the object to carve out a hole 33 feet to 66 feet across and send moon dust flying hundreds of miles across the barren, pockmarked surface.
The Associated Press and Nexstar Media Wire’s Jeremy Tanner contributed to this report.