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Asteroid Passed Earth
An asteroid the size of a football field hurtled past the Earth a week ago,
missing what could have been a catastrophic collision by a mere 75,000 miles?
less than a third of the distance to the moon. The miss was one of the nearest
ever recorded for an object of that size, scientists said Thursday. "It
was a close shave," said Brian Marsden of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center
for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.
asteroid would have caused "considerable loss of life" if it had
struck Earth in a populated area, said Grant Stokes, the principal investigator
for the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Project, whose New Mexico
observatory spotted the object last week.
energy release would be of the magnitude of a large nuclear weapon,"
Stokes said. The asteroid was not detected until three days after it sped past
Earth on June 14. When such asteroids are detected, they are usually spotted
far from Earth, when they are approaching or on their way out.
asteroid, provisionally named 2002 MN, was travelling at more than 23,000 mph
when it was spotted, Stokes said in a phone interview from Lexington, Mass.,
where he is associate head of the aerospace division of MIT Lincoln
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