NASA Says Asteroid 2017 XC62 Coming Toward Earth
NASA Says Asteroid 2017 XC62 Coming Toward Earth

WASHINGTON — An asteroid the size of the Washington Monument will come around 7.2 million kilometers from Earth on January 24, according to NASA.

At between 84 and 190 meters wide, NASA considers asteroid 2017 XC62 ‘potentially hazardous’ because asteroids over 140 meters could release at least a thousand times more energy than the first atomic bomb on impact with Earth, according to the Davidson Institute of Science.

Of course, any chances of an impact are entirely unlikely, as the closest asteroid 2017 XC62 is predicted to come to Earth is more than 17 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

However, even at such a safe distance, it’s clear why asteroids like this one occupy such an oversized place in the popular imagination.

The last time a large asteroid struck the planet was in 2013, when a 19-meter-wide asteroid exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk[g], causing damage to around 7,500 buildings and 1,500 people.

But that pales in comparison to the last time an object the size of 2017 XC62 is believed to have hit the Earth, on June 30, 1908.

Encyclopedia Britannica says back then 2,000 square kilometers of trees were flattened near the Podkamennaya Tunguska[h] River in central Siberia and eyewitnesses at the time described a fireball lighting the horizon, followed by trembling ground and hot winds strong enough to throw people down to the ground.