Duck! Just kidding. Asteroid to pass safely past Earth today

100-foot asteroid will have its closest approach at 4 p.m. ET, NASA says

An asteroid is flying relatively closely past Earth today, NASA reported.

No need to duck or take to the root cellar, though.

The asteroid, dubbed 2014 DX110, will pass by closer than the distance between the Earth and the moon. However, it will safely pass by, with its closest approach, at about 217,000 miles, at 4 p.m. ET.

That is relatively close, considering that the average distance between Earth and its moon is 239,000 miles.

NASA, in October, released a report that another asteroid was passing close by Earth. That asteroid, 2013 TV135, was the size of about four football fields and came within 4.2 million miles of Earth, which is about three quarters of the distance to Jupiter's orbit.

The asteroid that is passing by today is much smaller, measuring about 100 feet across.

Scientists are increasingly interested in studying asteroids to help protect the planet in the event of a possible devastating collision. They also want to learn whether the makeup of asteroids might offer clues to the birth of the universe.

NASA's asteroid-grabbing plan includes finding a near-Earth asteroid that weighs about 500 tons but may be only 25 or 30 feet long. The space agency is aiming to have astronauts visit an asteroid by 2025.

The plan, which has been opposed by House Republican leaders, is being supported in NASA's proposed 2015 budget.

This article, Duck! Just kidding. Asteroid to pass safely past Earth today, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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