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Though It Might Take Out a Couple Satellites, This Asteroid Will Not Destroy Earth Next Week

A simulation of asteroid 2012 DA14 approaching from the south as it passes through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013.

A simulation of asteroid 2012 DA14 approaching from the south as it passes through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013. // NASA/JPL-Caltech

Good news, Earthlings! The day after Valentine's Day a 150-foot-wide asteroid will fly so close to our planet that it will pass through the orbit of several satellites, but experts said on Thursday that it will not hit us. In fact, the so-called DA14 asteroid will be such a close call that the force of Earth's gravity will actually cause the asteroid to ricochet off those orbits, creating more distance between the asteroid and our planet so that the next fly-by won't be so nerve-wracking. At 17,100 miles away, the DA14 will become the largest object ever (on record) to fly so close to Earth and not hit it. Which is really good news since it's traveling eight times faster than a speeding bullet. Scientists say that it could take out a satellite or two, however.

It's hard not to hear the theme song to Armageddon in your head when thinking about this sort of thing. Although 17,100 miles is a lot of miles in terms of space distance, for an asteroid half the size of the International Space Station to zip by so closely is a little breath-taking. It also leads us to wonder: At what point do we start talking about sending Bruce Willis and his persnickety pack of oil drillers into space to stop the dang thing? DA14's projected path brings it just one-thirteenth the distance to the moon from Earth, less than seven roundtrip flights from New York to Los Angeles. If it hit us, the resultant explosion would have the force of a 2.5-megaton atomic bomb. 

Read more at The Atlantic Wire

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