'Potentially hazardous' Eiffel Tower-sized asteroid to buzz by Earth next week

4660 Nereus is estimated to be as wide as the Eiffel Tower is tall at 1,082 feet.
4660 Nereus is estimated to be as wide as the Eiffel Tower is tall at 1,082 feet. Photo credit Getty Images

The asteroid known as 4660 Nereus is not your typical space rock.

It's a big one – estimated to be as wide as the iconic Eiffel Tower is tall at 1,082 feet. It's also classified as "potentially hazardous" due to its size and proximity to Earth, something NASA designates once an asteroid comes within 4.65 million miles of our planet. So how close will it get?

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On Dec. 11, we'll get a good look at Nereus as it passes by Earth at its closest distance in the last 20 years. By "close," it's estimated to be roughly 2.5 million miles away, traveling at a poultry 14,700 miles per hour.

That may not be a true "buzzing," but Nereus' path in 2060 will feel like one.

It will miss us by a much slimmer – but still safe – 745,000 miles on that turn.

Either way, no impact is expected anytime soon.

Here's the cool part: The egg-shaped rock has been identified as "a potential spacecraft target" since it was discovered in 1982, according to NASA. In fact, it's listed as "a strong candidate for a rendezvous mission," per a 2009 NASA research paper. The Japanese space agency even once pondered "punching" it off its current orbital course around the sun with a spacecraft.

That's not all. Look below the surface.

Nereus is thought to be a "cost-effective" option for space mineral mining. Yes, you read that right. "Observations suggest the stadium-sized world could contain billions worth of nickel, iron and cobalt," Forbes reported.

If you miss it this time around, don't worry.

Nereus is scheduled to pass by Earth again in 2031.