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NASA: Mysterious object heading toward earth may be a comet, or asteroid

The Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission is proposed to launch in 2020

(NationalSentinel) Scientists at NASA say a pair of massive space objects are hurtling towards earth at thousands of miles per hour, and while the space agency has identified one of them as a comet, they aren’t quite sure yet about the other object.

As reported by the UK’s Daily Mirror, the comet is expected to pass close to earth this week; the mystery object won’t appear until February, however.

The object, which has been named “2016 WF9,” was initially detected by NASA’s asteroid-and-comet-hunting NEOWISE project in late November. The object is about 0.3 to 0.6 miles wide and is in an orbit that will take it “on a scenic tour of our solar system,” the Daily Mirror reported.

“2016 WF9 could have cometary origins,” said Deputy Principal Investigator James “Gerbs” Bauer at NASA’s JPL.

“This object illustrates that the boundary between asteroids and comets is a blurry one; perhaps over time this object has lost the majority of the volatiles that linger on or just under its surface.”

Officials at NASA said the object is not a threat to earth at the present time and does not look to become one.

In November, as reported by Space.news, the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA are looking into developing their Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission, proposed to launch in 2020.

While they admit that asteroid strikes on earth are rare, if a big enough object were to strike, it could devastate the planet.

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