Another asteroid buzzes by Earth today
- 06 March, 2014 21:13
For the second day in a row, an asteroid is buzzing past Earth.
NASA announced that an asteroid measuring about 25 feet across will pass safely past Earth today at 4:21 p.m. ET. The asteroid, dubbed 2014 EC, is expected to approach the Earth at a distance six times closer than the moon.
The news comes just a day after another asteroid -- this one named 2014 DX110 -- whizzed by Earth closer than the distance between the Earth and the moon.
"This is not an unusual event," said Paul Chodas, a senior scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. "Objects of this size pass this close to the Earth several times every year."
The approaching asteroid will not be visible to the unaided eye.
The Virtual Telescope Project has been trying to track the asteroid but has been unable to capture images of the asteroid because of poor weather and cloud cover. If conditions improve, the group will post images or video to its web site.
The Catalina Sky Survey, based near Tucson, Ariz., first spotted the asteroid on Wednesday, according to NASA. Its closest distance is expected to be about 38,300 miles above the Earth's surface.
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.
Last year, NASA unveiled a plan to study near-Earth asteroids by 2025.
The plan includes finding a nearby asteroid that weighs about 500 tons but would be 25 or 30 feet long. NASA would pull the asteroid into orbit around Earth and then land astronauts on its surface to study it.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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