A massive asteroid, twice the height of the Empire State Building passed closely to earth on Saturday night.
Curtin University’s cosmic mineralogist and astrologist professor Gretchen Benedix said the asteroid 2000QW7 ﬂew by the earth at a distance of 5.24 million kilometres.
“This is roughly 10 times the distance from the earth to the moon,” she said.
“Its orbit is such that it will not pass this close to earth again until 2087.”
The asteroid’s diameter is reported to be 640 metres and it originated in the inner main asteroid belt.
Professor Benedix said the farthest point in its orbit from the sun lies just beyond the orbit of Mars.
“Its orbit is quite elliptical so that when it comes close to the sun, it crosses the orbit of the earth,” she said.
Although this might not seem very big, according to Professor Benedix the damage that might be left by an asteroid this size hitting the earth would be considerable.
“Depending on the composition of the asteroid and it’s speed in space, it could create a crater around 10 kilometres in diameter if it were to hit earth,” she said.
“A 10 kilometre crater could cause serious damage if it were to hit a populated area.”
Professor Benedix said the odds of an asteroid or other object capable of causing damage hitting the earth in the near future is small.