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» »Unlabelled » Giant asteroid hurtling towards Earth

A massive asteroid will fly within the moon's orbit narrowly missing Earth later this year. The space rock, called YU55, will hurtle past our planet at a distance of just 201,700 miles during its closest approach on November 8.

That is closer to Earth than the moon, which orbits 238,857miles away on average.
With a width of some 400metres and weighing 55million tons, YU55 will be the largest object to ever approach Earth so close.

Nasa spokesman Don Yeomans said: 'On November 8, asteroid YU55 will fly past Earth and at its closest approach point will be about 325,000kms away.
This asteroid is about 400 metres wide - the largest space rock we have identified that will come this close until 2028.'

Despite YU55's close proximity to Earth, its gravitational pull on our planet will be 'immeasurably miniscule'.

Mr Yeomans added: 'During its closest approach, its gravitational effect on the Earth will be so miniscule as to be immeasurable. It will not affect the tides or anything else.'

It is, however, still officially labelled a 'potentially hazardous object' - if it was to hit Earth, it would exert a force the equivalent of 65,000 atomic bombs and leave a crater six miles wide and 2,000ft deep.

YU55 was discovered by Robert McMillan, head of the Nasa-funded Spacewatch Program at the University of Arizona, Tucson in December 2005.

It orbits the sun once every 14 years but will not collide with Earth for at least a century.

'YU55 poses no threat of an Earth collision over, at the very least, the next 100 years,' Mr Yeomans said.

Scientists around the world have long been discussing ways of deflecting potentially hazardous asteroids to prevent them hitting Earth.

One of the more popular methods is to detonate a nuclear warhead on an approaching asteroid to deflect it from its orbital path.

Last year, physicist David Dearborn of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US argued that nuclear weapons could be the best strategy for avoiding an asteroid impact - especially for large asteroids and with little warning time.

/Daily Mail/


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