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Asteroid striking Earth is 'like a bullet hitting a bullet'

Friday - 2/15/2013, 8:20am  ET

Nick Iannelli, wtop.com

WASHINGTON D.C. - An asteroid about 150 feet across will pass unusually close to Earth - about 17,000 miles away - Friday.

"There are billions of these objects out there. There's a lot of debris in orbit around the sun," says Richard Berendzen, director of NASA's Space Grant Consortium for D.C.

"This one comes inside the orbit of the moon, in fact inside the orbit of communication satellites."

Astronomically speaking, the 130,000-metric-ton assteroid is relatively small.

Still, if it struck Earth near a populated area, it would be an unspeakable disaster.

"It would basically decimate a large city," says Berendzen.

Rest easy.

Experts who track activity of near-Earth objects say an asteroid will not have a legitimate chance at hitting the planet until the 22nd century.

"It's sort of like a bullet hitting a bullet. What's the likelihood?"

Even if a threat was heading toward Earth, Berendzen believes astronomers would devise a plan to avert a head-on collision.

Astronomers across the globe take these events seriously, tracking potential threats.

It is essentially impossible for a large space object to unexpectedly appear, catching monitors off guard.

The 2013 Asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly by around 2:24 p.m. Friday.

An observatory in Israel is offering live online footage via a remote telescope.

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