WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A space rock will pass closer to Earth than any other recorded asteroid ever has, but there's no chance it will endanger our planet, astronomers said on Thursday.
The small asteroid, discovered on Monday by the NASA-funded LINEAR survey, will get within 26,500 miles of Earth at 5:08 p.m. EST today, the scientists said.
It will come so close that Earth's gravity will bend its path by about 15 degrees. Known as 2004FH, the asteroid will cross from one side of the moon's orbit to the other in 31 hours.
With a diameter of about 100 feet, this asteroid is not unusual; scientists at NASA's Near Earth Object Program said in a statement that these kinds of objects pass undetected at about this distance roughly once every two years.
"This particular close approach is unusual only in the sense that scientists know about it," the statement said.
It was detected as part of the LINEAR study, which is searching for objects with diameters of .62 miles or more that come close to Earth.
This asteroid's closest approach to Earth will be over the Southern Atlantic Ocean. It will be bright enough to be seen with a good pair of binoculars from parts of Europe, Asia and most of the southern hemisphere.
I think somebody needs to be watching a little closer....