Friday, March 2, 2012

Leap day asteroid zooms harmlessly past Earth

A small asteroid about the size of a house made one cosmic leap past Earth Wednesday, just in time for leap day.

The newfound asteroid 2012 DS32 posed no chance of hitting our planet but made an evening pass to mark this special day for Earth, NASA scientists said.

"Happy Leap Day! Small asteroid 2012 DS32 will safely pass Earth at 7:36 p.m. EST," astronomers with NASA's Asteroid Watch program wrote in a Twitter post. The Asteroid Watch program is part of the Near Earth Object office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

The asteroid 2012 DS32 is about 61 feet (about 18.5 meters) across. At the nearest point, the asteroid zoomed within about 446,000 miles (717,767 kilometers) of the planet, which is slightly less than twice the distance between Earth and the moon. The average Earth-moon distance is about 238,000 miles (382,900 kilometers).

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