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NASA: Asteroid, Russian Meteor ‘Completely Unrelated’

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PASADENA (CBSLA.com) — Call it “Apocalypse Not Yet” or just another cosmic close call, but a small asteroid whizzed safely past Earth on Friday, scientists said.

KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports the football field-sized space rock passed by just over 17,000 miles from Earth hours after an apparent meteor exploded in the sky over Russia.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about 150 feet in diameter and is believed to be made up of iron, nickel and other precious metals valued upwards of $195 billion.

While the asteroid is too small to be seen with the naked eye, scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory tracked the space rock as it passed well within the distance that geostationary communications satellites orbit the earth.

Don Yeomans, manager of the Near Earth Object office at Jet Propulsion Labs, said this type of flyby is unlikely to affect any satellites.

“On average, one would expect an object of this size to get this close every 40 years or so,” said Yeomans. “An actual Earth collision by an object of this size would be expected about every 1,200 years on average.”

The flyby of 2012 DA14 is the closest-ever predicted approach to Earth for an object this large, according to NASA.

NASA released a statement Friday saying the trajectory of an estimated 10-ton meteor that exploded over Russia’s Ural Mountains earlier this morning was “significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, making it a completely unrelated object.”

Scientists added that the meteor was seen to pass from left to right in front of the rising sun – which means it was traveling from north to south – while 2012 DA14’s trajectory is in the opposite direction, from south to north.

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