x
Breaking News
More () »

$5 billion asteroid just made its closest pass by Earth for the next 40 years

The asteroid's slow speed combined with the elements and minerals it's made of has people dreaming of some extraterrestrial prospecting.

It's an asteroid that's as wide as the Eiffel Tower is tall. The materials it's made of would value it at nearly $5 billion if someone on Earth could claim it. And on Saturday morning, it made its closest approach to our planet until 2060.

The asteroid, 4660 Nereus, will come within 2.4 million miles of Earth. Galactically, that's knocking on the front door. But in reality, that's still 10 times the distance between the Earth and our moon. EarthSky reports it reached its closest point at approximately 10:51 a.m. EST Saturday.

At its widest point, Nereus is 1,083 feet in diameter. The Eiffel Tower is 20 feet shorter.

While the Minor Planet Center officially deems Nereus a Potentially Hazardous Object, according to EarthSky, it was not a threat to hit us. Any object that gets within 19.5 times our distance to the moon and is larger than 460 feet gets that designation.

Although it's big and was relatively close, EarthSky said Nereus had a visual magnitude of 12. The naked eye can only see up to magnitude 6.

EarthSky reports Nereus circles the sun once every 661 days on an elongated orbital path.

As The Hill reported this month, the asteroid database Asterank estimates Nereus is worth $4.71 billion due to its composition, believed to contain nickel, iron and cobalt. And with private space ventures like SpaceX and Blue Origin, combined with the fact that NASA has already sent spacecraft to not only collect asteroid samples for return to Earth but also to experiment with redirecting asteroids, Nereus provides potential mining opportunities down the road.

Asterank estimates the profit from mining Nereus would be $1.39 billion. It also helps that Nereus moves pretty slowly compared to other asteroids -- 14,719 mph. Those and other factors put it among the most cost effective asteroids to target, the website said.

Other asteroids Asterank watches are valued at more than $100 trillion.

Paid Advertisement