A massive 1,000-metre wide asteroid capable of wiping out an entire country is set to narrowly miss Earth while zooming past our planet at more than 37,000 kph, scientists say.
The space rock, named ‘2014-YB35’, will pass within 2.8 million miles of Earth on March 27.
Images from NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory show that the asteroid will only narrowly miss our planet.
The object was first spotted by the Catalina Sky Survey at the end of last year and astronomers are expected to closely watch its progress this week, ‘express.co.uk’ reported.
Small meteorites often pass close by however one of this size is a once in 5,000-year occurrence, according to astronomers.
A collision with Earth would unleash an explosive force equivalent to more than 15,000 million tonnes of TNT.
Any impact would trigger devastating changes in the climate, earthquakes and tsunamis leading to the eradication of entire communities.
It would eclipse the destruction caused by the 1908 Tunguska Event which saw a 50-metre lump of extraterrestrial rock crash into Siberia.
It flattened an estimated 80 million trees and sent a shock wave across Russia measuring five on the Richter scale.
Bill Napier, professor of astronomy at the University of Buckinghamshire, said there is a ‘very real risk’ of a comet or damaging asteroid hitting Earth.
“Smaller scale events like Tunguska are absolutely a real risk, largely they are undiscovered and so we are unprepared,” he said. “With something like YB35, we are looking at a scale of global destruction, something that would pose a risk to the continuation of the planet. “These events are however very rare, it is the smaller yet still very damaging impacts which are a very real threat,” Napier added.