Asteroid passing very close to Earth Friday

By Justin Fujioka
Published On: Feb 14 2013 09:33:49 PM HST
Updated On: Feb 15 2013 10:58:20 AM HST

Scientists say a rock the size of a space shuttle will miss the Earth by an astronomical inch.

HONOLULU -

There will be a close encounter of the asteroid kind Friday.

Scientists said a rock the size of a space shuttle will fly by Earth at a very close distance of just 17,200 miles, which is closer than most of our communications satellites and just a little more double the diameter of our planet.

Bishop Museum's Director of Education, Exhibits and Planetarium Mike Shanahan said, "Roughly every 40 years, we have a close approach like this. And roughly every 1,200 years, an asteroid of this size actually strikes the planet Earth."

If that were to happen, it would likely explode in the atmosphere and cause devastation across hundreds of square miles, according to scientists.

"It would not be a matter of devastation throughout the planet Earth. It wouldn't lead to a new ice age or whatever. Because at the end of the day, it's a fairly small object," Shanahan said.

So small, experts say you won't even be able to see it with the naked eye.

And even if you had a telescope, Shanahan said, "We will not see it here. It passes over right in the middle of the day here in Hawaii."

But we may get another chance because according to scientists, this is one of just thousands of objects that pass close to our planet.

"Not tomorrow, not even a hundred years from now, but someday, a really big asteroid's going to strike the Earth. Could be thousands of years in the future, but it would behoove us to really develop the technology to observe these and eventually to deal with a disaster from space like this," Shanahan added.

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