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

(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.

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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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