A display of heavenly magnitude will take place on Super Bowl Sunday and it wasn’t planned or paid for by the NFL or one of its many sponsors. Mother Nature has stepped in to send an asteroid spanning one-third of a mile hurtling past earth at some 76,000 mph.
While NASA calls the rocky mass known as 2002 AJ129 a “Potentially Hazardous Asteroid,” no reason for us earthlings to fear. It’s not slated to crash into Earth.
“We have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately,” Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said in a statement.
“Our calculations indicate that asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance — zero — of colliding with Earth on Feb. 4 or any time over the next 100 years.”
So what makes the asteroid “potentially hazardous”? NASA uses a preset criteria to define such bodies. Any that come within 4,650,000 miles of Earth and measure more than 500 feet in diameter become categorized as “Potentially Hazardous Asteroids.”
In fact, after providing the stats above, NASA revealed that next month’s asteroid won’t come closer than 2.6 million miles from our planet. That’s roughly 10 times the distance between Earth and moon.
The Feb. 4 asteroid will come closest to the Earth at about 4:30 p.m. Eastern time.
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