MONTREAL – An asteroid about half the size of a football field will brush past Earth today and be close enough to be affected by the planet’s gravitational pull.
At an altitude of 27,600 kilometres, it will be close enough to pass inside the ring of satellites that circle the planet.
With news that a meteor fell in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region Friday, it all may sound a bit too close for comfort.
But the European Space Agency, in a post on its Twitter account, said its experts had determined there was no connection between the meteor and the asteroid.
And scientists say Canadians shouldn’t fear a collision with the giant rock, named Asteroid 2012 DA14, which is on a course that will take it over the Indian Ocean at about 2:30 p.m. EST.
“We know with absolute certainty it will not impact the Earth on Friday,” said Peter Brown, a scientist at Western University in London, Ont.
“Things of this size get this close to the Earth or closer only about once every 40 years … so it’s an unusual event.“
The asteroid will come so close that the Earth’s gravity will change its orbit, but it won’t be dragged down.
“And we can say that there’s a very low chance _ maybe one chance in 300,000 _ that it will impact (the Earth) in the next 100 years or so,” added Brown.
Brown said the asteroid will be visible by binoculars in areas like Indonesia, eastern Europe, Asia and Australia, although it will be moving very fast.
It will be visible from North America later in the evening but only with high-powered telescopes.
In Russian, a meteor streaked across the sky above the Ural Mountains Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and injuring more than 400 people, mostly due to broken glass.
Fragments of the meteor fell in a thinly populated area of the Chelyabinsk region, about 1,500 kilometres east of Moscow.
There was no immediate demonstrable connection between the Russian meteor and today`s asteroid fly-by.
Watch live coverage from NASA, below:
Friday, February 15, 2013