An asteroid the size of a 15-story building will zoom past the Earth next week, the closest such flyby in a century and a reminder of the persistent risk of collision.
In a different orbit from outer space, the spinning rock, dubbed DA14, could have struck the Earth with a force equivalent to more than 2 million tons of TNT.
But instead, it will continue on eight times as fast as a speeding bullet back into deep space, averting calamity and thrilling scientists.
“It is a record-close approach for an asteroid of this size,” said Donald Yeomans, manager of the Near-Earth Objects Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, in a Thursday morning news conference.
On average, an asteroid of DA14′s diameter — estimated to be about 150 feet — gets this close every 40 years or so, he said. A collision would be expected every 1,200 years.
No “killer asteroids” are headed toward us within the next 50 years — that we’re aware of.
Damn. I was hoping to die before I get old.
This is an open thread.
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