3-mile-wide 'potentially hazardous' asteroid will make its closest pass by Earth in over 40 years on December 16, Nasa confirms

Nasa has confirmed that an enormous asteroid will brush past Earth on December 16. The asteroid, called 3200 Phaethon, measures three miles (five kilometres) in diameter, and is classed as 'potentially hazardous' 

Nasa has confirmed that an enormous asteroid will brush past Earth on December 16. The asteroid, called 3200 Phaethon, measures three miles (five kilometres) in diameter, and is classed as 'potentially hazardous' 

PHAETHON 

The asteroid is named after the son of the Greek sun god Helios 'Phaethon' because it passes so close to the sun.
Legend claims the young demi-god was challenged to prove he was related to Helios, who was said to pull the sun across the sky.
To prove his divine provenance, Phaethon rode his father's chariot but was unable to control the horses, who then ran wild across the sky, dragging the sun with them.
Earth was almost destroyed in the ensuing chaos, which scorched the planet, burned vast amounts of vegetation and created the great deserts of Africa. 
In a statement about the asteroid, a spokesperson for Nasa said: 'With a diameter of about 5 km, Phaethon is the third largest near-Earth asteroid classified as "Potentially Hazardous".'
Nasa expects Phaethon to make its closest pass to Earth on December 16, during which time the space agency hopes to take detailed images of the asteroid.
The Nasa spokesperson said: 'Phaethon will approach within 0.069 AU of Earth on 2017 December 16 when it will be a strong radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo.
'This will be the best opportunity to date for radar observations of this asteroid and we hope to obtain detailed images.
'The images should be excellent for obtaining a detailed 3D model.'
The next pass is predicted to be in 2093.

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