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Not quite armageddon: A large asteroid is whizzing by Earth this week

Grim Reaper 6

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An asteroid that is four times longer in diameter than the Empire State Building is approaching our planet. If it struck, calamity would ensue. Though it is not expected to strike, its size — and the nearness with which it will pass Earth — means that astronomer and space agencies are keeping eyes on it. The barren behemoth is known as 1989 JA, or 7335, and is expected to miss us by roughly 10 times the average distance between Earth and the Moon, according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

That amounts to 2.5 million miles, more than enough to put at ease the minds of people who got nightmares over "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon." Yet that comfort comes with a caveat: The NASA scientists acknowledge that because 1989 JA is so massive (it has a diameter of 1.1 miles) that they cannot responsibly wave it off. It is therefore being classified as "potentially hazardous"—  because with any unexpected change in its orbit, or if its orbit were miscalculated, it could suddenly become deadly.


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