Asteroid Barely Misses Earth
Rock small enough that Earth's gravity bends its path
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2011 9:30 AM CST
Updated Feb 10, 2011 6:56 AM CST
This computer image shows the path of the asteroid.   (NASA)

(Newser) – An asteroid all but buzzed Earth on Friday, NASA has revealed. The asteroid, known as 2011 CQ1, passed just 3,405 miles above the Earth’s surface as it hung a sharp turn around the planet. That's the closest near-miss ever recorded, beating a record set by a rock in 2004 by a few hundred miles, notes the New Scientist. The asteroid was just a meter wide, small enough that Earth’s gravity would affect its course, in this case bending its path 60 degrees.

Not that there was any real danger if the asteroid had veered into Earth's atmosphere. “There is likely to be nearly a billion objects of this size and larger in near-Earth space,” NASA scientists said. “Upon striking the atmosphere, objects of this size create visually impressive fireball events, but only rarely do even a few small fragments reach the ground.” (Click to read about an asteroid that could do some damage ... in 2036.)
 

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