NASA: No asteroid collision threat in 2040

Dec. 22, 2012 at 10:26 AM

PASADENA, Calif., Dec. 22 (UPI) -- The latest calculations indicate a huge asteroid careening toward the solar system won't pose a threat to Earth, the U.S. space agency NASA said.

Astronomers in Hawaii have downgraded the chances the 460-foot rock -- known as 2011 AG5 -- will strike the planet in 2040 from less than 1 percent to officially zero.

"An analysis of the new data conducted by NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory ... shows that the risk of collision in 2040 has been eliminated," NASA said Friday in a written statement.

The new assessment was based on new observations of 2011 AG5 made in October, and reduced the uncertainty by a factor of 60. The astronomers have concluded the asteroid will slide across Earth's orbit in 2040 with a good 553,000 miles to spare, which NASA said was twice the distance between Earth and the moon.

A collision would release about 100 megatons of energy, the equivalent of several thousand atomic bombs, CNN reported.

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