An asteroid NASA officials classify as potentially hazardous will shoot past the Earth on Super Bowl Sunday at about 76,000 mph.
The asteroid, about one-third of a mile long, is known as 2002 AJ129, and while it’s classified as potentially hazardous, it’s not expected to crash into the Earth.
Even at its closest approach at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, the asteroid will be no closer than 10 times the distance between Earth and the moon – about 2.6 million miles, according to NASA officials.
“It does not pose an actual threat of colliding with our planet for the foreseeable future,” according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
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“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 Lab. “Our calculations indicate that asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance – zero – of colliding with Earth on Feb. 4 or any time over the next 100 years.”
NASA uses set criteria to determine whether an asteroid is potentially hazardous.
Any asteroid that comes within 4.65 million miles of the Earth and is more than 500 feet in diameter falls into the “potentially hazardous” category.
An asteroid came within 26,000 miles of the Earth last October, allowing for a test of the planetary defense system.