I first heard about this via an article with one of the best openings ever written.
The reliable news videos I found all show animations of a space rock approaching Earth, but this asteroid – 1998 OR2 — is expected to miss us by some 4 million miles, which is a wider margin than some recent near-Earth approaches.
Here at the blog last year, we checked out NASA’s plantary defense mode.
For reference, Dr. Wikipedia notes that the space object that closed down the Age of Dinosaurs some 66 million years ago was between 11 and 81 km wide. Per NASA, 1998 OR2 is “only” 2 to 4 km (1.2 to 2.4 miles) across — still enough to ruin everybody’s day, if it hit (which doesn’t appear likely with a 4-million-mile pass-by distance).
There are other objects out there that could post a threat, per JPL. If you click on any of the objects on the list at that link, you can find out (among other things) what are the estimated chances that any of these will hit us.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. If you feel yourself getting worked up about this or other possible impacts, know that Earth has had other near-misses, including that time in 1883 when we apparently came very close to having some 3275 Tunguska events over the span of only two days (fragments of a comet roughly the size of Halley’s Comet passed us at a distance of less than 5,000 miles)!
Um, that was supposed to be reassuring.
Okay, let’s just take the attitude of a well-known Southern philosopher and his son:
Featured image: Orbit of 1998 OR2, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, via Japanese Wikimedia