ENVIRONMENT

A Nearly Mile-Wide Asteroid With Its Own Moon Hurtles Past Earth This Weekend

Binary asteroid system 1999 KW4 poses no threat of collision with our planet, scientists say.

An asteroid that’s nearly a mile wide and has its own moon is set to zip by Earth during the weekend.

Together, the two space rocks are known as a binary asteroid system, meaning two asteroids that orbit each other. The binary asteroid, called 1999 KW4 by NASA, will be around 3 million miles away from Earth at its closest point around 7:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, NBC News reports.

Although some outlets have noted that the asteroid, discovered in 1999, is classified as “potentially hazardous,” scientists stress there is absolutely no danger of it hitting Earth.

The larger body in the pair, which is nearly a mile wide, has a large ridge around its equator that makes it look like a spinning top, according to CBS News. The smaller rock is about a third of the size of its companion.

The binary asteroid system in a NASA rendering.
The binary asteroid system in a NASA rendering.

University of Arizona planetary scientist Vishnu Reddy told NBC that the asteroid system will be “one of the closest binary flybys probably in recent history,” but that it still will be too far away to be visible to the naked eye.

1999 KW4 will zip past Earth again in 2036, LiveScience notes. It again will be too far away to pose a collision risk.

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