Asteroid Could Threaten Earth

Deflection mission may be needed to keep 2011 AG5 away
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 29, 2012 1:02 AM CST
Asteroid Could Threaten Earth
The asteroid's orbit takes it between Earth and Mars.   (NASA)

(Newser) – Astronomers are keeping their eyes on an asteroid with the potential to make life very uncomfortable for a lot of Earthlings 28 years from now. The near-Earth asteroid 2011 AG5, a chunk of rock roughly 460 feet wide, will be close to our planet in 2040, and scientists believe there is a 1 in 625 chance that Earth's gravitational pull could put it on course to crash into us on February 5 of that year.

For the asteroid's orbit to be perturbed by gravity, it would need to pass through a small "keyhole" region in space in the year 2023. If observations over the next year or two find the asteroid headed straight for the keyhole, a deflection mission will be planned. Hopefully, it will be a "straightforward task to alter the asteroid’s trajectory enough to miss the keyhole," the head of NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program tells (Read more asteroid stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.