Asteroid to make close encounter on Super Bowl Sunday - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Asteroid to make close encounter on Super Bowl Sunday

(RNN) - An asteroid will fly by Earth on Feb. 4, the same day the Philadelphia Eagles face the New England Patriots for that big game in Minneapolis.

During this heavenly closeup, the asteroid will zoom by the planet swiftly - at about 76,000 mph - at about 4:30 p.m. ET, according to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA.

But don't worry. Close is a relative term. The asteroid will get no closer than 2.6 million miles away, more than 10 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

The near-Earth object, called Asteroid 2002 AJ129, is considered an intermediate-sized object less than a mile across.

Although the asteroid is classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid, it is not expected to pose a impact threat in the near future.

"We have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately," said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Our calculations indicate that asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance - zero - of colliding with Earth on Feb. 4 or any time over the next 100 years."

The asteroid was discovered in 2002 by the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking project at the Maui Space Surveillance Site on Haleakala, Hawaii. 

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