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Bus-sized asteroid came close to Earth on Friday

New Delhi, Jan 28 (): A small asteroid with the size of a city bus came much nearer than the moon Friday (Jan 27), just days after its discovery, but it never posed a threat to our planet, space scientists said.

The asteroid 2012 BX34 passed within 36,750 miles (59,044 kilometers) of Earth. The space rock is about 37 feet (11 meters) wide and would have broken apart in Earth’s atmosphere long before it reached the ground, if it had reached the planet at all, scientists said. Asteroid 2012 BX34 revolves around the Sun every 242 days.“The asteroid 2012 BX34 passed within 59,044 km of the Earth at about 9 p.m.,” Planetary Society of India Director N. Raghunandan Kumar said.

“The space rock, first observed on January 25, was about 11 metres wide, making it much too small to pose a threat to the Earth,” Mr. Kumar said.

The space rock passed Earth at a distance that is only about 0.17 times that between the Earth and the moon. For comparison, the moon typically orbits Earth at a distance of about 240,000 miles (386,000 km).

“Asteroids this small are hard to spot, & luckily they pose the least concern,” Asteroid Watch scientists explained. “Our goal is to find the bigger ones.”

NASA scientists and other astronomer teams regularly monitor the skies in search of asteroids that could pose a danger to Earth.

Experts estimate that asteroids measuring about 460 feet (140 m) across can cause widespread destruction near their impact sites, but they’d need to be even larger to cause devastation on a global scale.

Asteroids are a class of small solar system bodies in the orbit around the sun. The larger asteroids are called planetoids.

This week, scientists from around the world are also discussing how Earth should respond to the threat of an asteroid impact. The so-called NEO Shield project is a European commission led by the German Aerospace Center and includes scientists from universities and industrial partners in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, the United States and Russia.