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Asteroid won't hit earth in 2040

Dec. 27, 2012 at 9:58 AM  |  Updated Dec. 28, 2012 at 11:40 AM   |   Comments

Dec. 27 (UPI) -- New reports on asteroid 2011 AG5 have shown that the celestial body will pass safely by earth in 2040 and not clash against our planet as it was originally predicted it would, Space.com reported Thursday.

The 460-foot-wide space rock had a 1-in-500 chance to hit earth when it was originally discovered in January 2011 by the University of Arizona in Tucson, but further research has proved the asteroid's journey in space will be harmless.

A new NASA prediction based on observations done using the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii, indicates that judging by the asteroid's current course it won't get closer than 550,000 miles to our planet (about two times the distance between earth and the moon).

Though the coast is clear for now astronomers will continue to monitor asteroid's 2011 AG5 orbit as its path will become clearer in years to come, and a new threat might arise in 2023.

"While there is general consensus there is only a very small chance that we could be dealing with a real impact scenario for this object, we will still be watchful and ready to take further action if additional observations indicate it is warranted," Lindley Johnson, program executive for the Near-Earth Object (NEO) said in a statement on June 15.

According to Space.com if the asteroid passes through a 227-mile-wide "keyhole" in February 2023, "Earth's gravitational pull could tug on the rock's orbital path and bring it back for an impact on Feb. 5, 2040", NASA scientists said. However, if the asteroid avoids the keyhole, a collision in 2040 will not occur.

Telescopes on Earth and in space will get a better view of asteroid 2011 AG5 in the fall of 2013 when the asteroid is 91 million miles from our planet.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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