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Mid-sized asteroid to fly past Earth safely: NASA

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NASA has confirmed that the asteroid set to fly-by the Earth on February 4 poses no risk of harming our planet.

An intermediate-sized near-Earth asteroid will make a close approach to Earth on February 4, without posing any threat of colliding with our planet, according to NASA. At the time of closest approach, the asteroid named 2002 AJ129 will be no closer than 10 times the distance between Earth and the Moon – about 4.2 million kilometres.

“We have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US. “Our calculations indicate that asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance – zero – of colliding with Earth on February 4 or
any time over the next 100 years,” said Chodas.

2002 AJ129 is an intermediate-sized near-Earth asteroid, somewhere between 0.5 and 1.2 kilometres across. It was discovered in 2002 by the former NASA-sponsored Near Earth Asteroid Tracking project at the Maui Space Surveillance Site in Hawaii. The asteroid’s velocity at the time of closest approach, 34 kilometres per second, is higher than the majority of near-Earth objects during an Earth flyby, NASA said.

The high flyby velocity is a result of the asteroid’s orbit, which approaches very close to the Sun – 18 million
kilometres. Although asteroid 2002 AJ129 is categorised as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA), it does not pose an actual threat of colliding with our planet for the foreseeable future, according to NASA.

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