Close call, Earth

Just four days after doomsdayers claimed the end of the world was approaching, NASA revealed a giant asteroid was heading towards Earth.

On Saturday, a “monster” asteroid flew by our planet at a speed of 40,000 mph. A strike by the 1.5 mile wide heavenly body with the name 86666 (2000 FL 10) would have been catastrophic, according to NASA scientists.

On Friday, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab’s Near Earth Object Office, which tracks asteroids, said it would not come closer than 15 million miles, called a ‘near miss’. NASA issued the all-clear, confirming that the giant asteroid 86666 passed by safely.

In response to Qs, asteroid 86666 (2000 FL 10) will safely pass Earth Oct 10 by over 15 million mi/25 million km. It poses zero threat.

— Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) October 8, 2015

An asteroid almost hit Earth. Graphic from The Guardian
An asteroid almost hit Earth. Graphic from The Guardian

Asteroid 86666 was first seen 16.2 years ago on the 30th of March, 2000 by the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona. The asteroid came closest to Earth on Saturday, and by mid-November they will be far away from each other.

NASA tracks asteroids and comets passing within 30 million miles of Earth using telescopes. The JPL program keeps track of the orbits of comets and asteroids and publishes warnings if one is due to crash into Earth, or if it will come close. People can also monitor the comets and asteroids themselves by typing the name of the rock into JPL’s Small-Body Database Browser.

In August NASA was forced to issue a statement dispelling countless rumors, reports and speculations of a deadly asteroid threatening earth.

Conspiracy theorists claimed one would hit Puerto Rico in September, causing widespread destruction to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the US, Mexico and Southern America. Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object office said there was ‘no scientific basis or shred of evidence’ to confirm those rumors.

In 2011 there were rumors about the so-called ‘doomsday’ comet Elenin. Then there were assertions surrounding the end of the Mayan calendar on the 21st of December 2012, insisting the world would end with a large asteroid impact.

Earlier this year, asteroids 2004 BL86 and 2014 YB35 were also said to be on dangerous near-Earth paths, but both went without incident.

All known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids, have less than a 0.01 percent chance of hitting Earth in the next 100 years. Chance of collisions with earth is highly unlikely so there’s seemingly nothing to worry about in our lifetime.

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