Small asteroid to closely pass by Earth on Feb 9

Small asteroid to closely pass by Earth on Feb 9

The manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, Paul Chodas, said that most asteroids this size come this close only once or twice a year.

A newly discovered asteroid that is set to buzz past Earth today could be as large as the asteroid that exploded over Russian Federation five years ago.

The space agency only caught sight of the pair of asteroids on Sunday - just days before they were due for a close encounter with our planet.

NASA expects the asteroid to zoom past the United Kingdom at about 10.30pm GMT, travelling at five miles per second.

The celestial object, designated asteroid 2018 CB, will pass closely by Earth at around 5.30 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) (4 am Saturday India time), at a distance of about 64,000 kilometres, which is less than one-fifth the distance of Earth to the moon.

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The moon is about 240,000 miles from earth.

The asteroid is estimated to be between 50 and 100 feet (15 and 30 meters) in size. On Tuesday, an asteroid passed within 114,000 miles, slightly more than halfway to the moon.

In the meantime, astronomers are looking out for asteroids in the far cosmic reaches. After all, it's not every day that a space rock flies this close to the Earth, and scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge say there is no chance it will impact the planet.

On Feb. 15, 2013, an asteroid roughly 17 metres in size lit up the sky over Chelyabinsk breaking up, with a large piece landing in a lake.

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