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Asteroid to zip by Earth; closer than the moon

5:43 PM, Nov 8, 2011   |    comments
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(USA TODAY & WZZM) - An asteroid the size of four football fields will barrel past Earth today at a distance closer than the moon but poses no danger of hitting the planet.

The Asteroid 2005 YU55 will be at the closest point to Earth at 6:28 p.m. ET.

The 1,200-foot-wide space rock will pass Earth at a distance of 201,700 miles, or almost 7,000 miles closer than the moon. Space.com reports that it will be traveling at about 29,000 mph.

Lance Benner, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., says the object "cannot hit Earth."

Dr. Lawrence Molnar from Calvin college is tracking the asteroid as it passes earth. He says, it's important to make calculations to see what it will do in the future.

Dr. Molnar says, "We're going to change its orbit a lot in the next day so that we can't predict the great future without knowing what happened today."

The next known approach of an asteroid this size will be in 2028.

Molnar says eighty-five percent of "risky" asteroids are accounted for, but fifteen-percent still haven't been discovered.  

AP & Sarah Barwacz

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