An asteroid is heading toward Earth with the potential to flatten an area about 750 miles in diameter.
It’s expected to come “close” to the Earth by astronomical standards on Friday, according to David Dundee, an astronomer with the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville.
But the world is safe. Dundee says it’s going to miss us by about 17,200 miles.
“There is no chance of this object hitting the Earth on Friday or any time in the foreseeable future,” Dundee said.
If it did happen, “it would definitely ruin your day,” Dundee said. The asteroid would pack the power of 2.5 megatons of energy.
The asteroid is named 2012 DA14 and astronomers have known of its existence since February 2012. It’s widely believed to that an asteroid may have exploded in the air over Siberia in 1908.
DA14, as it is called, is about 150 feet across. It’s traveling at a speed of over 17,000 mph.
If you are hoping to get a glimpse of the object, don’t bother to set up your telescope. Since it’s expected to pass over Northwest Georgia during the day, it will not even be visible with a telescope, Dundee said.
NASA’s current count of near-Earth objects: just short of 10,000, the result of a concentrated effort for the past 15 years. That’s thought to represent less than 10 percent of the objects out there.
No one has ruled out a serious Earth impact, although the probability is said to be extremely low.
“We don’t have all the money in the world to do this kind of work” for tracking and potentially deflecting asteroids, said Lindley Johnson, an executive with the Near-Earth Object observations program in Washington.
Indeed, when asked about NASA’s plans to send astronauts to an asteroid in the decades ahead, as outlined a few years ago by President Barack Obama, Johnson said the space agency is looking at a number of options for human explorations.
One of the more immediate steps, planned for 2016, is the launch of a spacecraft to fly to a much bigger asteroid, collect samples and return them to Earth in 2023.
As for Asteroid 2012 DA14 — scientists suspect it’s made of silicate rock, but aren’t sure. Its shape and precise size also are mysteries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.