The US Space Agency (NASA) has announced that an asteroid will enter Earth’s orbit on December 11, the closest point to the blue planet in a period of 20 years.
About the size of the Eiffel Tower, asteroid 4660 Nereus is classified as a particularly unique and “potentially dangerous” piece of rock because of its proximity to Earth. Thus, the 330-meter elliptical asteroid is expected to reach within 2.5 million kilometers of Earth within a week, according to scientists who have followed it since its discovery in 1982.
Although this distance seems incredibly remote, in fact being about ten times that far from the Moon, it is considered close by cosmic standards, making 4660 Nereus a NEO.
NASA qualifies any asteroid or comet as a near-Earth object about 30 million kilometers from Earth’s orbit.
According to a Forbes analysis, Nereus has been touted as a space mission target several times, because its egg shape, size and orbital path around the Sun make it an ideal asteroid to travel to.
In addition, Nereus is estimated to be worth $4.71 billion, according to Asterank, a database that monitors more than 600,000 asteroids. Thus Nereus will contain billions of dollars worth of nickel, iron and cobalt, making it one of the most profitable asteroids for exploiting its mineral resources.
In fact, asteroid mining began to gain popularity in the early 2010s, however, the new space age with big players such as Blue Origin and SpaceX may prompt it to start again from Nereus.
In addition, according to Forbes, it will take about a year for the robotic spacecraft to orbit Nereus.