Yahoo! News News Home - Yahoo! - Help

Associated Press
Try Netflix for Free!
Home  Top Stories  Business  Tech  Politics  World  Local  Entertainment  Sports  Op/Ed   Science   Health  Full Coverage
Science - Associated Press
MyAdd to My Yahoo!
Reuters  |  |  AP  

Tuesday January 8 4:10 PM ET

Large Asteroid Passes Close to Earth

LOS ANGELES (AP) - An asteroid large enough to wipe out France hurtled past the Earth at a distance of a half-million miles just days after scientists spotted it.

The asteroid, dubbed 2001 YB5, came within 520,000 miles of Earth on Monday, approximately twice the distance of the moon.

Dozens of asteroids pass close by the Earth each year, though 2001 YB5 was closer than most. On Friday, for instance, an asteroid known as 2001 UU92 will pass with 11 million miles of Earth.

Asteroid 2001 YB5, estimated to be 1,000 feet across, was traveling about 68,000 mph relative to the Earth when it zipped past.

``It's a fairly substantial rock. If it had hit us at that sort of speed, you would be taking out a medium-size country, France, I suppose, or Texas, or something of that order,'' said Jay Tate, director of the Spaceguard Centre in Wales.

Astronomers with the NASA (news - web sites)'s Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking program discovered 2001 YB5 on Dec. 26. Soon after, astronomers calculated the asteroid's orbit and determined there was no danger it would strike Earth.

Had it been on a collision course, it would have created ``one of the worst disasters in human history,'' said Steven Pravdo, the NEAT project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

``What could we have done about it? The answer is not much,'' Pravdo said.

As astronomers become aware of more asteroids passing close to the Earth, they seek a standardized way of alerting the public to the hazard they might pose. Among programs already in place is the Spaceguard Centre's Comet and Asteroid Information Network, which began work Jan. 1.


On the Net:

Spaceguard Centre

Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking project:

Email this story - View most popular  |  Printer-friendly format

Earlier Stories
Immense Asteroid Passes Earth (January 8)

Archived Stories by Date:

News Resources
Message Boards: Post/Read Msgs (146 msg Jan 15, 11:06 AM ET)
Conversations: Start a live discussion
News Alerts: meteor meteorite asteroid | NASA
More Alerts: News Bulletins, News, Mobile, Stocks

 Weekly Specials
Thereís No Better Time! Consolidate Debt Now!
Subscribe to USA TODAY and get a FREE Atlas
Find Money for College
$8.95 Domain Name Registrations & Transfers
Health Insurance-compare & shop online
FREE credit report & trial membership!
Access Your PC from Anywhere - Free Download
Get Free DVD Rentals


How to make your car invisible to radar and laser

Natural de-icer means youíll have to shovel less this winter

Carry 20 GB of data in your shirt pocket

A floor lamp that spreads sunshine all over a room

Easily change from TV to VCR to DVD to Video Games with the touch of a button

Digital camera, webcam and camcorder all in the size of a pen

Itís time to put all of your photos onto your computer

Time zone to time zone never set your watch again

Search News
Search:  Stories   Photos   Audio/Video   Full Coverage
Home  Top Stories  Business  Tech  Politics  World  Local  Entertainment  Sports  Op/Ed   Science   Health  Full Coverage

Copyright © 2002 Yahoo! Inc., and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
Questions or Comments
Privacy Policy - Terms of Service