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Two asteroids zip past Earth


The asteroid that rushed past Earth on Tuesday was the sixth closest approach on record (iStock photo)
The asteroid that rushed past Earth on Tuesday was the sixth closest approach on record (iStock photo)

Scott Meiklejohn, staff writer

May 30, 2012 — Back-to-back asteroids zipped harmlessly past Earth this week causing no harm or danger.

After an asteroid hurtled by Earth on Monday, another zipped past on Tuesday -- this one even closer. 

Tuesday's asteroid, dubbed 2012 KT42 by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, say the chunk of space rock passed by Earth in the early morning.

It came to within 14,403 km of the Earth's surface, making it the sixth closest asteroid approach on record.

On Monday, another asteroid flew past Earth at a distance of 51,497 km. 

Neither asteroid posed a threat to Earth as both were quite small in relative terms. Monday's meteor was about 21 meters across, while Tuesday's was just around 5 meters.

For a meteor to cause widespread damage on Earth it would have to be larger than 140 meters. 

The closest asteroid to fly past Earth was in 2004, and was only 6,500 km away. Had it collided with Earth it would have disintegrated in the atmosphere because of its small size. 

For some perspective, the moon generally orbits 386,000 km from Earth. 

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