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Astronomer: Asteroid strike in 2106 looks unlikely

6:05 AM, Feb 13, 2013   |    comments
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(USATODAY.com) - Good news, folks. An asteroid looks unlikely to smack into Earth on Friday or in 2106, despite Russian media reports.

An asteroid half the size of a football field, 2012 DA14, whizzes past Earth on Friday at an altitude of 17,100 miles, close by astronomical standards. NASA says no impact is possible.

However, a Wednesday Voice of Russia report, citing two Russian astronomers, warns that another asteroid, 2012 YQ1 (asteroids are named after the year of their discovery and in alphabetical combinations that reflect the order in which they were spotted), threatens our planet with an impact almost a century from now, in 2106. That asteroid is about three-quarters of the size of a football field, to stick with sporting-grounds measurements.

No fear, says MIT asteroid expert Richard Binzel. "Looks like a rogue report," he says, pointing to thespace agency risk table for asteroids, which doesn't list 2012 YQ1 as a concern.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is tracking the asteroid and its orbit doesn't seem to intersect with Earth for the foreseeable future.

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