posted on Jun, 17 2003 @ 05:54 PM
June 20, 2002
A football-pitch-sized asteroid capable of razing a major city came within a whisker of hitting the Earth on June 14, but was only spotted three days
later, scientists said Thursday.
Asteroid 2002 MN, estimated at up to 120 metres (yards) long, hurtled by the Earth at a distance of 120,000 kilometers (75,000 miles), well within the
orbit of the Moon and just a hair's breadth in galactic terms. It is the closest recorded near-miss by any asteroid, with the exception of a 10-metre
(33-feet) rock, 1994 XM1, which approached within 105,000 kilometers (65,000) miles on December 9, 1994, they said.
"2002 MN is a lightweight among asteroids and incapable of causing damage on a global scale, such as the object associated with the extinction of the
dinosaurs," the Near Earth Object (NEO) Information Centre of Britain's National Space Centre said in a press release. "However, if it had hit the
Earth, 2002 MN may have caused local devastation similar to that which occurred in Tunguska, Siberia in 1908, when 2,000 square kilometres (800 square
miles) of forest ere flattened," it said.