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Asteroid Flyby Came Closer Than GPS Satellites

10:27 AM, Feb 16, 2013   |    comments
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USA Today -- Whew! That was kind of close.

After Friday morning's Russian meteor blast injured 1,100 people, an afternoon flyby of a far bigger asteroid drew plenty of attention for another possible close encounter that buzzed by the Earth at about 2:24 p.m. ET.

While an object half the size of a football field flying at nearly 17,500 mph may be cause for concern in light of the Russian meteor strike, NASA and astronomers from around the globe say the planet and its inhabitants weren't in danger.

The chance of asteroid 2012 DA14 colliding with Earth was infinitesimally small, they say. At its closest, DA14 passed within 17,100 miles of Earth near near Sumatra over the Indian Ocean then headed off into space.

However, if, by chance, it did hit? The fallout would be devastating.

The asteroid would have crashed with the equivalent of 2.4 million tons of dynamite, creating a disaster of regional proportions similar to the 1908 asteroid explosion over Tunguska, Siberia, which flattened 750 square miles of forest.

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