Another Asteroid Just Missed Earth: See Our Latest Close Call

By Pierre Dumont , Mar 04, 2013 05:16 PM EST

Earth just had a close call with another asteroid.

The asteroid, named 2013 EC and discovered by the Mount Lemmon Observatory in Arizona, came closer than the moon at a distance of about 246,000 miles at 2:35 a.m. March 4. It was between 33 and 55 feet in diameter, about the size of the space rock that blew up over Russia on Feb. 15. There is no possibility, however, that the asteroid will hit Earth.

On March 3, Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project hosted a Google+ Hangout during which he was able to view the asteroid when it was about twice the moon's distance. During the video, which is now available on YouTube, Masi extensively discussed asteroids and the EC 2013 in particular.

"That we are finding all these asteroids recently does not mean that we are being visited by more asteroids, just that our ability to detect them has gotten so much better," Masi said. "Our technology has improved a lot over the past decades."

On Feb. 28 another space rock came within about the same distance of Earth. Its diameter was about 52 feet.

Although we are able to detect most space objects that come near Earth, there are still those that come as a surprise.

"We have the technology to deflect asteroids, but we cannot do anything about the objects we don't know exist," says chairman and CEO of the B612 Foundation Ed Lu.

The meteor that hit Russia weighed about 11 tons and entered Earth's atmosphere at a speed of 33,000 miles per hour. The pieces of rock caused considerable building damage and broke glass, resulting in over 500 injuries. After the event, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin called on a global effort to find enhanced technology as a way to prevent harmful objects from impacting Earth.

(Edited by Lois Heyman)

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