An asteroid the size of a house is set to pass close to the Earth this afternoon, Nasa has said.
The US space agency said that the object was predicted to travel over New Zealand at a distance of roughly 25,000 miles (40,000km) from Earth – just a tenth of the distance between us and the Moon.
That will bring it near to the band of satellites that orbit the planet at around 23,000 miles (36,000km), though not so close as to pose a serious threat.
The asteroid measures around 60 feet (18m) across, a similar size to the one that caused widespread damage and injured around 1,000 people when it exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013.
The same day as the Chelyabinsk asteroid explosion, another larger asteroid flew as close as 17,168 miles (27,630 km) from Earth, well within striking distance of the planet's communications and weather satellites.
NASA: Space in pictures
NASA: Space in pictures
A false colour image of Cassiopeia A comprised with data from the Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes and the Chandra X-Ray observatory
The Barred Spiral Galaxy (NGC 6217) in the Ursa Minor constellation is pictured in Space
A team of astrophysicists has detected so-called gravitational waves – predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago – which are the first tremors of the Big Bang when time and space began about 13.7 billion years ago
Rex Features/Mood Board
The barred spiral galaxy M83, also known as the Southern Pinwheel. The Hubble photograph captures thousands of star clusters, hundreds of thousands of individual stars, and 'ghosts' of dead stars called supernova remnants
Acosmic creepy-crawly known as the Tarantula Nebula in infrared light
A spiral galaxy ESO 373-8 - together with at least seven of its galactic neighbours, this galaxy is a member of the NGC 2997 group
A massive galaxy cluster Abell 2744, according to NASA these are some of the faintest and youngest galaxies ever detected in space
A giant cloud of solar particles, a coronal mass ejection, explodes off the sun, lower right, captured by the European Space Agency and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
Current conditions of the quiet corona and upper transition region of the Sun
First color image of the Earth taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts in 1968
Fog forming over the the US Great Lakes area and streaming southeast with the wind. A swirling mass of Arctic air moved south into the continental United States
Astronaut Mike Hopkins, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer, is shown in the second of two spacewalks designed to allow the crew to change out a faulty water pump on the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station
The asteroid passing today was first detected just a week ago by an observatory in the US, and experts say that it will offer the chance to learn more about how the objects can be tracked more quickly in future.
“While this celestial object does not appear to pose any threat to Earth or satellites, its close approach creates a unique opportunity for researchers to observe and learn more about asteroids,” Nasa said.
The asteroid's closest approach will be over New Zealand at 6.18am on Monday local time (BST 7.18pm on Sunday. Amateur astronomers may be able to see it pass with a telescope, though it will be too dim to pick out with the naked eye.
Nasa said it currently tracks more than 11,000 asteroids in orbits that pass relatively close to Earth.Reuse content