Asteroid could be Earth’s nearest miss ever

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iol scitech may 30 asteroid INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File photo: An artist's impression of an asteroid as it flies past Earth.

London - An asteroid capable of destroying London will pass the Earth on Friday in the nearest miss ever recorded.

Experts say they are sure there is no chance of the 150ft wide space rock hitting the planet – but it could disrupt your mobile phone.

That’s because the asteroid will fly so close to Earth it could collide with one of more than 100 satellites that send data between phones. The asteroid, 2012 DA14, has been closely tracked since its discovery a year ago. It is predicted to reach its nearest point to the Earth at around 7.30pm UK time (about 5:30pm SA time) on Friday.

Scientists calculate it will stay at least 17,200 miles away – far enough to be safe, but a very close shave in astronomical terms – and say they have never observed such a near miss before.

Through binoculars, the object should be visible as a tiny dot of light crossing the sky. It will travel at five miles per second – eight times the speed of a rifle bullet. Astronomer and asteroid expert Dr Dan Brown, from Nottingham Trent University, said: “It will be low to the north-eastern horizon and moving quite quickly.

“You’ll be able to see it pass from the constellation Leo to roughly the Plough, more or less from anywhere in the UK, and it will be bright for about an hour.”

A similar-sized meteor devastated Tunguska, a remote region of Siberia, in 1908, generating a blast 1,000 times more powerful than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Dr Brown said an object of that size “would have wiped out London”. - Daily Mail

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