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'Potentially hazardous asteroid' to safely fly over earth

NASA scientists have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately.

Written by: IANS, New Delhi [ Published on: January 20, 2018 16:20 IST ]
Asteroid passing over Earth ( A representational image. PC:
Asteroid passing over Earth ( A representational image. PC: NASA)

An intermediate-sized asteroid, categorised as a "potentially hazardous asteroid", will come close to earth on February 4, but has zero chances of colliding with our planet in over the next 100 years, NASA said in a statement.

Discovered in January 2002, the asteroid 2002 AJ129 is somewhere between 0.3 miles (0.5 km) and 0.75 miles (1.2 km) across. The asteroid will be no closer than 10 times the distance between earth and the moon (about 2.6 million miles, or 4.2 million km).

"We have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately," said Paul Chodas, Manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in California.  "Our calculations indicate that asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance - zero - of colliding with earth on February 4 or any time over the next 100 years," Chodas added.

The asteroid's velocity at the time of closest approach, 76,000 mph (34 km per second), is higher than the majority of near-earth objects during an earth flyby. The high flyby velocity is a result of the asteroid's orbit, which approaches very close to the Sun - 11 million miles (18 million km), the statement said.  The asteroid 2002 AJ129 will make a close approach to earth on February 4, 2018 at 4.30 p.m. EST.

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