NASA announces that an asteroid the size of a bus is set to pass extremely close to Earth today.
Asteroid 2012 BX34 will pass within 36,750 miles of Earth at about 3:30 p.m GMT/10:30 a.m. EST Friday, January 27, tweeted astronomers with NASA’s Asteroid Watch program.
Even though this is more than five times closer than the moon, at 11 meters wide, the rock won’t be any threat to Earth.
“It wouldn’t get through our atmosphere intact even if it dared to try,” Asteroid Watch scientists tweeted Thursday.
Asteroid Watch is a part of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
For an asteroid to cause real damage to Earth, it needs to measure at least 140 m, experts estimate.
At that size they can cause widespread destruction near where they hit but will need to be far larger to cause trouble globally.
With this danger in mind, scientists in Germany have just launched a study to develop an asteroid shield.
With funds from the European Commission, the NEOShield project is expected to take three years to complete.
Some of the scientists will look at include repelling asteroids with projectiles or explosives or using gravity to change its course.
Still today’s asteroid passing should offer a good show:
“Advanced amateur astronomers might be able to observe the flyby as the asteroid brightens to 14th magnitude just before closest approach on Friday,” the website Spaceweather.com reported.