NASA: Asteroid Will Miss Earth Despite Uncertainties

NASA scientists and their research partners are convinced that Asteroid 2011 AG5 will miss Earth when it passes close by our orbit in February 2040. Scientists previously placed the chance at a collision at less than 1 percent.

Scientists originally were not sure of the asteroid’s direct path and asked for further observation. New observations were made by a team of astronomers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa over several days in October 2012 with the help of a Gemini 8-meter telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

On Friday, NASA revealed:

“An analysis of the new data conducted by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shows that the risk of collision in 2040 has been eliminated.”

The 2011 AG5 is a 460 foot long asteroid that will come within 553,000 miles of Earth, approximately two times the distance of the moon.

According to the team at the Gemini Observatory, the asteroid would have been been enough to release more than 100 megatons of energy. An explosion that size would have been several thousand times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped at the end of World War II.

Predicting an asteroids future path is tricky business as scientists often must attempt to observe objects as they pass in front of the sun and pass behind other objects. However, after determining the shape and distance of 2011 AG5 and applying some complex algorithms into the equation, the group is certain the Earth will not meet its demise because of Asteroid 2011 AG5.

There are currently more than 4,700 potentially hazardous Asteroids in our solar system.