2014-YB35: massive asteroid set to fly by Earth

Rock should safely fly by, and is much further away than the last almost-visitor

An asteroid that is 1,000-metres wide is set to skim past Earth this week, travelling at more than 23,000 mph.

The rock, named 2014-YB35, will pass by relatively close to Earth. But that is 2.8 million miles away, 11.7 times further away than the moon.

It will also be much further away than the latest near miss, in January That was close enough for amateur astronomers to see with binoculars — a mere 745,000 miles away. But 2014-YB35 will still be close enough for Nasa to keep a close eye on it as it goes past — in part to ensure our safety, but also so that they can learn more about the asteroids that fly around space.

As it skims past, it will be watched by scientists at the Goldstone Observatory, in California’s Mojave Desert. They have already started watching the asteroid, and hope to work out what exact size it is and what it is made up of.

When the last asteroid flew past, such observations yielded unexpected results. Nasa saw that the asteroid was carrying its own moon — about 70 meters across — which was until that point unknown.