A closely tracked asteroid, about 45 metres wide, whizzed safely past Earth on Friday, the same day a much smaller, previously undetected meteor hit Russia, injuring nearly 1,000 people.
The 45 metre asteroid, dubbed 2012 DA 14, passed around 27,000 kilometres above the Earth at the time of closest approach, about 6.25am on Saturday (AEDT), NASA said.
The US space agency had said in a statement on its website that this was ‘‘the closest-ever predicted approach to Earth for an object this large.’’
The asteroid isn’t nearly as large as the 10-kilometre wide object that took out the dinosaurs, but astronomers said it was large enough that, had it struck the Earth’s surface, it could wipe out a large urban area.
However, the asteroid’s path kept it well away from Earth and from the ring of communications satellites in Earth’s orbit, and NASA said the object’s orbit would keep it further from the planet in the foreseeable future.
NASA said the flyby provided a ‘‘unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close.’’ See more here.
Russia wasn’t so lucky … A meteor ripped across the sky in central Russia on Friday, injuring hundreds. In the city of Chelyabinsk, the impact caused explosions and sent broken glass out from windows like confetti.