Although the rock will almost certainly not collide with us, as long as it remains within its current trajectory, scientists have previously warned that such an impact could have a dire impact on our planet.
"These would not be pleasant times," Charles Bardeen, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said during a presentation at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) said, according to The Daily Mail.
A 2016 study found that the impact of a slightly smaller space object would bring about a mini Ice Age. Temperatures would fall across the planet as much as 8 degrees Celsius. The effects would last for several years, leading to potentially severe devastation around the globe, not to mention the havoc caused by the initial impact.
However, such an impact would not likely lead to a global extinction event. The space rock that wiped out the dinosaurs is estimated to have been between 6.2 and 9.3 miles wide.
Fortunately, NASA scientists don't foresee any such incident occurring in the near future. Nonetheless, the space agency is planning for the worst.
Current technology wouldn't be able to stop such a massive object from hitting our planet, but NASA has plans in place to mitigate the impact of such a direct hit. Additionally, the space agency is developing a refrigerator-sized spacecraft that would be able to prevent such collisions. The technology is slated for testing in 2024.
"NASA established its Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) in 2016, which is responsible for finding, tracking and characterizing potentially hazardous asteroids and comets coming near Earth, issuing warnings about possible impacts, and assisting plans and coordination of U.S. government response to an actual impact threat," a press release on the agency's website explains.
The deflection technology under development would change "the speed of a threatening asteroid by a small fraction of its total velocity." If this is done long enough before a predicted impact, the relatively small nudge will "add up over time to a big shift of the asteroid's path away from Earth."
NASA and FEMA have even teamed up for emergency planning exercises, in case of a future collision scenario.