Hazardous Eiffel Tower-sized asteroid heading towards Earth, NASA warns

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An asteroid as big as the Eiffel Tower is coming toward Earth next month with NASA classifying it as a 'Potentially Hazardous Asteroid' (PHA).

The asteroid named 4660 Nereus is almost three times the size of a football pitch. The impact of such a large body hitting the surface of the Earth could be devastating but fortunately, it will not pose a threat to humanity and is expected to pass by the planet.

NASA's asteroid monitor predicts it will come close to Earth on December 11. However, by 'close' they that the asteroid will fly by the planet at a distance of 3.9 million kilometres – a distance greater than 10 times that between the Earth and the moon.

Nereus is 330 metres long, which makes it larger than 90% of asteroids, but tiny compared to large asteroids, according to Space Reference.

The asteroid orbits the Sun every 664 days though it is predicted not to come close to the Earth again until March 2, 2031 and then November 2050, reports the Daily Record.

Its closest approach will not happen for another 40 years in February 2060.

Discovered in 1982 by US astronomer Eleanor F. Helin, Nereus is a member of the Apollo group of asteroids which are known for crossing the path of the Earth as it orbits the Sun.

Scientists have considered missions to the asteroid, but plans have fallen through each time.

NASA proposed sending the Robotic Asteroid Shoemaker Rendezvous (NEAR) probe and Japan assessed sending the robotic spacecraft Hayabusa to Nereus, but both ultimately chose other targets.

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