Asteroid 3 times the size of Taj Mahal to fly past Earth on Saturday

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An asteroid expected to pass by Earth (not pictured) has been classified by NASA as Apollo, a class that holds the most dangerous asteroids. In the image above, the light trail of a re-entry capsule carrying samples collected from a distant asteroid is seen reentering the Earth’s atmosphere on December 6, 2020. (Morgan Sette/AFP via Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) — An asteroid about the size of a stadium — or three times the size of the Taj Mahal — is set to speed past Earth on Saturday.

The asteroid, called “2008Go20,” is hurtling towards Earth at 18,000 mph, according to NASA. Nevertheless, the agency says there’s no reason to worry.

Sized about 220 meters in diameter, 2008Go20 will be 0.04 au (astronomical units) away from Earth — a distance of 3,718,232 miles, according to NASA’s calculations. Comparatively, the moon is about 238,606 miles from Earth.

However, because the asteroid’s orbit will be very close to Earth, NASA has categorized it as Apollo, a class that holds the most dangerous asteroids. NASA is monitoring the object.

Asteroids are small, rocky objects left over from the solar system’s formation some 4.5 billion years ago. They orbit the sun and mostly live in the asteroid belt, located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids are made of different kinds of rocks, and no two are alike.

In March, the asteroid Apophis, roughly the size of three football fields, passed by Earth approximately 10.4 million miles away — nearly 44 times as far away as the moon.

Asteroid Apophis is set to harmlessly pass close to Earth on April 13, 2029. Initial calculations indicated there was a small possibility the asteroid could impact Earth in 2029, and it earned the nickname “God of Chaos.” NASA has since deemed Earth safe from the asteroid for the next 100 years.

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