An asteroid designated as 2023 WW will be making a close approach to the Earth on December 05, safely zipping past at 8.5 kilometres per second. The Near Earth Object (NEO) will approach within 7.6 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, which is uncomfortably close. 2023 WW belongs to a category of asteroids known as Apollos, which have orbits that are larger than the Earth, but intersect with the orbit of the Earth. These asteroids regularly cross the orbit of the Earth, which brings them in close proximity to the planet. NASA tracks Near Earth Objects to determine the risk of an impact event, which can potentially be devastating. No large major impact event is expected for the next 1,000 years.
2023 WW is relatively small, and is travelling at a relatively low velocity as well. However, if an asteroid of similar size and velocity were to strike the Earth, it would not burn up in the atmosphere, and result in an impact crater about 200 metres across, and 42 metres deep. Energy equal to a detonation of two megatons of TNT would be released, which is in excess of the Tunguska explosion. If the asteroid were to impact over water, it would create a devastating tsunami, with waves rising to 100 metres in height. If such an asteroid were to strike the planet in a major urban centre, about 30,000 people would die, with buildings flattened within a radius of six kilometres.