Asteroid Could Come Within 11K Miles of Earth Next Month

But NASA says there's no reason to panic
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2016 6:40 PM CST
Asteroid Could Come Within 11K Miles of Earth Next Month

An asteroid could pass very close—cosmically speaking—to the Earth next month. Asteroid 2013 TX68 is scheduled to pass us by on March 5, coming as close as 11,000 miles (or a little more than the distance between Seattle and South Africa), CBS News reports. However it could also be as far away as 9 million miles. According to Gizmodo, the asteroid's most likely path puts it at a distance of 1 million miles from Earth. Amateur astronomers should be at the ready anyway, as a flyby at the closer end of the asteroid's range would make it visible with a telescope.

The asteroid, which was discovered in October 2013, passed by Earth two years ago at a distance of 1.3 million miles. Even though it's predicted to possibly come closer this time around, NASA states there is no chance it will hit the Earth. According to a press release, there is a one in 250 million chance it will collide with the planet during another flyby in 2017, though NASA says that probability is "too small to be of any real concern." And at only 100-feet in diameter, our atmosphere would likely break it up before it made contact. Though that would still cause an "air burst" twice as powerful as the one caused by a meteor that broke up over Chelyabinsk, Russia, three years ago. (More asteroid stories.)

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