Asteroid to make closest fly-by in history

Moscow:  An asteroid similar in size to the one that exploded over Siberia in 1908 will pass the Earth on February 15 by the smallest-ever recorded margin, American space agency NASA said.

But the asteroid poses no threat of colliding with the planet.

"The asteroid will pass by our planet at a remarkably close distance, but the asteroid's path is understood well enough that there is no chance of a collision with the Earth," NASA said.

Known as 2012 DA14, the asteroid will come no closer than 27,650 km to the Earth, according to NASA.

It was detected in February 2012 when it was about 4.3 million km away.

The asteroid is approximately 45 metres in diameter and has an estimated mass of about 130,000 tonnes.

"A comparison to the impact potential of an asteroid the size of 2012 DA14 could be made to the impact of a near-Earth object that occurred in 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia," NASA said.

On June 30, 1908, Siberia was hit by an explosion equal to 2,000 times the nuclear bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945, destroying 2,200 square km of forest.

If the impact had occurred four hours later, the city of St. Petersburg and other nearby settlements would have been wiped off the face of the Earth.

Story First Published: February 08, 2013 21:20 IST

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