NASA is closely monitoring the arrival of a previously unseen asteroid that is set to brush past Earth next week at 12,300 miles per hour. The space rock had been invisible to astronomers until January 5, but scientists quickly calculated the asteroid, named 2018 AJ, will fly past Earth Tuesday, January 23. But NASA admits it is not yet certain of its orbital path. New asteroids are given a condition code of between 0 to 9 based on how certain astronomers are about its course. Zero means they are fairly certain, but 9 is classed as “highly uncertain”.

It is currently believed it will pass at a comfortable 4.6 times the distance from Earth to the Moon. The Moon is 238,000 miles from Earth and this pass, currently estimated at around 1.1 million miles, is considered a cat’s whisker in astronomical terms. NASA considers and monitors anything which comes within six million miles of our planet as a near-earth asteroid. The asteroid is estimated to be between 22 and 68 meters in diameter, meaning it is bigger than a three-story house. READ MORE