A giant asteroid is heading toward planet Earth and it is now so close that it can be seen by the human eye.
Vesta, minor-planet designation 4 Vesta, is one of the largest objects in the asteroid belt. It was discovered by the German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers on March 29, 1807 and is named after Vesta, the virgin goddess of home and hearth from Roman mythology.
The giant space rock is barreling through space at breakneck speeds of 19.34 km/s or 43,262 mph. NASA experts estimate 4 Vesta’s surface area to measure about 800,000 square kilometers, which is equivalent to three times the size of the United Kingdom. The asteroid measures more than 326 miles (525 km) in mean diameter and it can be seen from both the Earth’s hemispheres.
In an animated video released by NASA the space rock can be seen to have many craters which may have been caused by a large crash that occurred in the past.
Vesta was the fourth ever asteroid to be discovered by scientists back on Earth.
Since the historic discovery, NASA had the opportunity to study the asteroid up-close thanks to the Dawn spacecraft.
The space probe circled Vesta between July 16, 2011, and September 5, 2012.
From Earth, 4 Vesta is visible as a dim yellow dot as it has come so close to our planet in 20 years.
The space rock will remain visible until July 16, even though it is millions of miles from Earth. 4 Vesta is currently zooming through space at a distance of 106 million miles, but its sheer size and luminosity make it a bright element of the night sky.
There are millions of asteroids in the solar system and most of them are usually found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
* This article was automatically syndicated and expanded from Sputnik International.
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