A chunk of primordial space rock will pass about 7500 miles above the Earth today around 1:14PM today EDT.
For comparison, the Earth is around 8,000 miles wide, so another close call is going into the record books.
The asteroid 2011 MD is between 29 and 98 feet wide, around the size of a tour bus, and is classified as a near earth asteroid that was discovered by LINEAR, a pair of robotic telescopes in New Mexico.
“There is no chance that 2011 MD will hit Earth, but scientists will use the close pass as opportunity to study it w/ radar observations,” astronomers with NASA’s Asteroid Watch program at JPL wrote in a Twitter post Thursday.
If the asteroid does enter Earth’s atmosphere it will most likely break up before it hits the ground.
“Asteroid 2011 MD measures about 10 meters. Stony asteroids less than 25 m would break up in Earth’s atmosphere & not cause ground damage,” Asteroid Watch scientists said.
[ad code=1 align=center]
The record for closest asteroid near the Earth is currently held by the asteroid 2011 CQ1, which came within 3,400 miles (5,471 kilometers) of Earth on Feb. 4 of this year.
You will need a large amateur telescope to see the faint asteroid which is about 250 times fainter that the dimmest stars and you will need to be quick to track it as the asteroid moves rapidly against the background stars.
Asteroid 2011 MD will also pass through the area above earth where satellites and space junk orbit, but a chance of collision is remote scientists say.
About 1,236 of near earth asteroids about half a mile or larger that have the chance of passing close to earth have been classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids.
The OSIRIS-Rex asteroid probe will be launched in 2016 to rendezvous with the asteroid 1999 RQ36 in 2020. The target asteroid is 1,900 feet wide and has a 1-in-1,800 chance of hitting Earth in the year 2170, and a 1-in-1,000 chance of smashing into us in 2182.