NASA: Asteroid to Zip past Earth on Super Bowl Sunday

posted by Alan McBride -

NASA scientists say asteroid 2002 AJ129 will make a close approach to Earth on Feb. 4, at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. 

Yep, that's Super Bowl Sunday.

And, regardless of what happens with the big game, scientists say the asteroid's approach will not be a nail-biter.

Scientists say at the time of closest approach, the asteroid will be no closer than 10 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.

That puts it about 2.6 million miles away from Earth, and it puts Earth well out of harm's way.

NASA says this asteroid is an intermediate-sized near-Earth asteroid, somewhere between 0.3 miles and 0.75 miles across. 

It was discovered on Jan. 15, 2002, according to NASA records.

Astronomers say the space-going rock will zip past Earth at about 76,000 mph, which is a higher velocity than most near-Earth objects.

The high velocity fly-by is due to the asteroid's orbit, which astronomers say will bring it to within 11 million miles of the sun. 

Objects with that kind of a close approach tend to pick up a lot of speed on their way in. 

Scientists say that, beyond being an interesting object to observe, this asteroid will not be any sort of threat to Earth for the foreseeable future.

They say the odds of it striking Earth over the next 100 years are zero.

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