Astronomers are keeping their eyes on an asteroid with the potential to make life very uncomfortable for a lot of Earthlings 28 years from now. The near-Earth asteroid 2011 AG5, a chunk of rock roughly 460 feet wide, will be close to our planet in 2040, and scientists believe there is a 1 in 625 chance that Earth's gravitational pull could put it on course to crash into us on February 5 of that year.
For the asteroid's orbit to be perturbed by gravity, it would need to pass through a small "keyhole" region in space in the year 2023. If observations over the next year or two find the asteroid headed straight for the keyhole, a deflection mission will be planned. Hopefully, it will be a "straightforward task to alter the asteroid’s trajectory enough to miss the keyhole," the head of NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program tells Space.com (Read more asteroid stories.)