London: A 150-foot asteroid orbiting Earth called 2012 DA14 will fly past just 17,000 miles from Earth - nearer than geostationary satellites-on February 15 next year, researchers say.
If an asteroid of that size hits our planet, it would cause an explosion similar to a nuclear blast, the Daily Mail reported.
However, NASA’s Impact Risk report asserted that the odds of the space rock actually hitting our planet are very low indeed.
Two astronomers from the the Observatorio Astronomico de La Sagra in Spain spotted 2012 DA14 in late February and its orbit has been estimated to be very similar to Earth’s.
Some reports indicated that on February 15 next year an impact was a possibility, but U.S astronomer Phil Plait, the creator of the Bad Astronomy blog, has ruled out an impact.
“Asteroid 2012 DA14 is almost certainly not going to hit Earth next February. And by “almost certainly”, I mean it,” he wrote.
“The odds of an impact are so low they are essentially zero. This does not rule out an impact at some future date, but for now we’re safe.”
The space rock will come within 17,000 miles of Earth, which is closer than some of our satellites, but Plait has insisted that this is nothing to worry about.
“Seventeen thousand miles is well beneath many of our own orbiting satellites. To the best of my knowledge, this is the closest pass of a decent-sized asteroid ever seen before the actual pass itself,” he said.
“However, let’s again be very clear - it will miss. In astronomical terms, 17,000 miles is pretty close, but in real human terms it’s a clean miss,” he added.
After next year, 2012 DA14’s closest brush with Earth will come in 2020, but Plait asserted that even then the odds of an impact would be 1 in 100,000.
First Published: Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 15:00