t's all right folks, that was just a massive asteroid
By staff writers and wires
January 30, 2008 09:33am
* Mass extinction event averted
* Asteroid continuing as before
A MASSIVE asteroid that was first spotted only four months ago has just zoomed past Earth.
The space rock, uninspiringly named TU-24 and roughly 250m in diameter, passed by at only around 1.4 times the moon's distance from Earth.
Boffins who scan the sky for asteroids on potentially deadly trajectories first saw the rock on October 11 last year.
Yesterday astronomers got a good look at the asteroid, which was so big that it would have caused devastating regional damage had it struck Earth's surface.
DC Agle, a spokesman for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said: "I can confirm it came the closest to Earth ... and it's on its way, away from Earth".
TU-24 flew by at 4.30pm AEDT yesterday.
Earth was never in danger of being struck by the asteroid as it passed within 538,000km of our planet, or 1.4 times the Moon's distance from Earth.
The asteroid's fly-by "is the closest until at least the end of the next century", JPL senior astronomer Steve Ostro said.
"It is also the asteroid's closest Earth approach for more than 2000 years."
For a brief period, the asteroid was visible in dark and clear skies with amateur telescopes of 7.5cm or largerhttp://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23131271-2,00.html