A giant asteroid is heading our way - but fortunately it's set to narrowly miss Earth, experts predict.

The huge lump of rock is expected to pass close by us - at least in astronomical terms - on Friday (March 27).

Should it actually collide with Earth, the asteroid, called 2014-YB35, would have caused global devastation - with huge changes in the climate, sparking earthquakes and tsunamis.

It is not unusual for small meteorites to pass close by but an object of this size is a very rare occurrence and poses a very real threat.

Experts have warned it is only a matter of time before an asteroid capable of "life-altering" damage collides with our planet.

The object was first spotted by the Catalina Sky Survey at the end of last year with astronomers expected to be closely watching its progress this week.

NASA also hopes to learn more about the asteroid as it skims past the earth.

It will also be much further away than the last near miss in January, when the asteroid was close enough for amateur astronomers to see with binoculars — a mere 745,000 miles away.

Video thumbnail, Asteroid fly-by
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How big is the asteroid?

It is estimated to be from between 500m and 1km wide, with 990m the most likely.

How far away will it be from Earth?

This rock is forecast to pass within 2.8m miles - a tiny distance in astronomical terms - but 11.7 times further away than the moon.

What speed will it pass at?

It's travelling at more than 23,000 mph.

When will it pass?

On Friday evening (March 27).

How rare is it?

Small meteorites often pass close by however one of this size is a once in 5,000-year occurrence, according to concerned astronomers.

How powerful would its impact be?

A collision with Earth would unleash an explosive force equivalent to more than 15,000m tonnes - 15,000 megatons - of TNT.

Experts warn if one of these monsters were to hit Earth plumes of debris would be thrown into the atmosphere, changing the climate and potentially making the planet uninhabitable for all life.

Smaller impacts would be capable of destroying cities and knocking out transport and communication networks.

Originally published on Mirror Online.