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Russian astronomers detect large near-Earth asteroid

Oct. 11, 2013 at 5:44 PM

MOSCOW, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Russian astronomers say they detected a near-Earth asteroid about a fifth the size of the space rock thought to have killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

The half-mile-wide asteroid, dubbed 2013 TB80, was first spotted Wednesday by a Russian-operated observatory in New Mexico and later confirmed by U.S. and Japanese astronomers, the International Astronomical Union said in an online statement.

The asteroid does not pose a threat of colliding with Earth, the head of the remotely run observatory that made the discovery said.

"It's a big asteroid, but it poses no danger for us," Leonid Elenin, who lives near Moscow, told RIA Novosti Friday.

Near-Earth objects, or NEOs, are defined as those that come as close to the Sun as the Earth does, which means they have a chance of colliding with our planet.

NASA estimates 93 percent of near-Earth asteroids above one kilometer in diameter have been identified, and none of them is expected to collide with the Earth in the foreseeable future.

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