A large and 'potentially dangerous' asteroid will enter Earth orbit next week
An asteroid the size of the Eiffel Tower is entering the orbit of Planet Earth this month and is considered a unique rock piece by scientists.
Asteroid 4660 Nereus has been classified as "potentially dangerous" because of its proximity to Earth. On December 11, NASA expects it to be at its closest point to Earth over a 20-year period. The asteroid was discovered in 1982.
4660 Nereut is a 330-meter asteroid in the shape of an egg and within the next week scientists predict it will come 2.5 million miles away from Earth. Although it sounds like an incredibly far distance, it is about ten times farther than the moon, which is considered close by cosmic standards.
According to an analysis by Forbes, Nereus has been a proposed target for a space mission many times, due to its egg shape, size and orbital path around the sun that makes it an ideal asteroid to visit.
Even in 2009, researchers considered Nereus, "a strong candidate for a meeting mission."
Asterank, a database that monitors more than 600,000 asteroids, estimates that Nereus is worth $ 4.71 billion, making it one of the most cost-effective asteroids to exploit mineral resources. The asteroid is thought to contain billions of dollars worth of nickel, iron and cobalt.
Asteroid mining is a concept that started gaining popularity in the early 2010s, but now that the commercial space industry has launched with big players like Blue Origin and SpaceX, it can come back again starting with Nereus.
According to Forbes, it would take about a year for a robotic spacecraft to enter orbit around Nereus.