Astronomers have reportedly spotted an unknown space object hurtling towards the planet Earth.
The mysterious object – which has been dubbed 2010 AL30 – is expected to fly by Earth at 7:47 a.m. EST on January 13, at a distance of just 130,000 km (80,000 miles).
Scientists have theorized that it could be space junk or a tiny asteroid. Either way, the enigmatic UFO is only 33-50 feet at most, which is too small to cause damage even if it impacted.
However, Ian O’Neill of Discovery News notes that the near-Earth object (NEO) has an orbital period of almost exactly one year.
“This fact has led some scientists to speculate that 2010 AL30 could be a man made object and not an asteroid,” wrote O’Neill. “After all, there’s a lot of space junk up there, there’s every possibility that it could be a spent rocket booster or some other chunk from a spacecraft.”
However, O’Neill also quoted Alan W. Harris, Senior Research Scientist at the Space Science Institute, who opined that the NEO was likely a naturally occurring, near-Earth asteroid.
“[2010 AL30 is] unlikely to be artificial, its orbit doesn’t resemble any useful spacecraft trajectory, and its encounter velocity with the Earth is not unusually low,” Harris explained on The Minor Planet Mailing List.