Asteroid in 2040: Will it Pulverize Earth?!

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It will not. A new study confirms that a huge asteroid will pass harmlessly by Earth in 2040, meaning you may very well have more than 28 years to live.


New observations of the asteroid 2011 AG5 now give astronomers confidence that the 460-foot-wide space rock won't hit Earth in the year 2040.

Asteroid in 2040

When it was discovered, scientists said that 2011 AG5 had a 1-in-500 chance of impact with Earth, pretty good odds considering the size of the universe.

Astronomers solidified the asteroid's harmless status during an observation campaign in October, using the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii.

The finding added more support to a NASA study that came to a similar conclusion in June based on months of observations of asteroid 2011 AG5.

The researchers behind the latest study say the asteroid shouldn't get any closer than 550,000 miles, about twice the distance between Earth and the moon.

Still, a lot closer than the three-mile wide asteroid that recently passed us by, and far nearer to the place we call home than most rocks ever get.

"These were extremely difficult observations of a very faint object," said the University of Hawaii's Richard Wainscoat whose team of researchers monitor 2011 AG5.

"We were surprised by how easily the Gemini telescope was able to recover such a faint asteroid so low in the sky," he added (see photo above).

NASA astronomers and other scientists regularly monitor the sky for asteroids that could pose a potential impact threat to Earth, now or down the line.

About 9,000 such near-Earth asteroids have been discovered to date, though up to a million or more could potentially exist, NASA scientists say.

Nearly 95 percent of the largest near-Earth asteroids, those larger than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) in size, have been identified, NASA scientists say.

The space agency's Asteroid Watch program to monitor nearby space rocks is based at the national Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.