NASA could be $4.7bn richer if it caught the asteroid due to pass Earth

A GIANT asteroid that's due to skim Earth’s orbit tomorrow could make NASA $4.7bn richer – if they caught it.

Nasa has described a 1,083ft egg-shaped space rock as “potentially hazardous”.

But by some reports, the space rock named Nereus is worth an estimated $5 billion in precious metals.

This makes it one of the most cost-effective asteroids to leverage for mineral resources.

The asteroid is thought to contain billions worth of nickel, iron and cobalt.

The concept of asteroid mining began gaining popularity in the early 2010s, but now as the commercial space industry has taken off with big players like Blue Origin and SpaceX, it could pick back up again starting with Nereus.

Nereus travels at 14,719 miles per hour (23,688 km/h).

While this may sound pretty fast, the asteroid is in fact a “slow” space rock compared to many other asteroids.

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Giant asteroid will skim past Earth tomorrow in hair-raising near miss

Its relatively low speed is an advantage for those who want send a robotic spacecraft in the future to study it.

This asteroid makes close approaches to Earth several times each century.

And – in part because it comes close and in part because it’s a relatively slow asteroid – space entrepreneurs have cast their gaze toward Nereus as well.

Nereus will come within 2.4 million miles (3.9 million km) of Earth, still about 10 times further away than the moon.

It’ll swing closest to our orbit at approximately 13:51 on Saturday 12 December.

The asteroid completes an orbit around the sun every 661 days (1.81 Earth-years).

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