NASA has spotted something heading towards Earth

Jan 5, 2017

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Image | NASA illustration

NASA scientists have spotted an object flying towards Earth, but one problem -- they’re not sure exactly what it is.

The jury’s still out on whether the mystery object is a comet or an asteroid, but either way NASA says it poses no threat to Earth… for the “foreseeable future”.

The object -- named 2016 WF9 -- will come within 51 million kilometres of Earth on Feb 25:

“This pass will not bring it particularly close,” NASA said in a statement. “The trajectory of 2016 WF9 is well understood, and the object is not a threat to Earth for the foreseeable future.”

Generally speaking, asteroids are usually rocky or more metallic, while comets tend to be icier.

According to NASA, this object “might once have been a comet, or it could have strayed from a population of dark objects in the main asteroid belt”.

“2016 WF9 could have cometary origins,” said NASA’s James Bauer. “This object illustrates that the boundary between asteroids and comets is a blurry one; perhaps over time this object has lost the majority of the volatiles that linger on or just under its surface.”

But what they do know is that 2016 WF9 is pretty big… anywhere from half to one kilometre wide.

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