Asteroid 1999 FN53 will pass Earth at a distance of 26 times the distance of Earth to the moon on May 14, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Before you queue Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" (OK, queue it up. It's still a great song) JPL says that the asteroid won't get any closer to the Earth than 6.3 million miles away - and even that will take more than 100 years.
"This is a flyby in the loosest sense of the term," said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., according to a press release. "We can compute the motion of this asteroid for the next 3,000 years and it will never be a threat to Earth. This is a relatively unremarkable asteroid, and its distant flyby of Earth tomorrow is equally unremarkable."
NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets using both ground- and space-based telescopes. Elements of the Near-Earth Object Program, often referred to as "Spaceguard," discover these objects, characterize a subset of them and identify their close approaches to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet. NASA's Near-Earth Object Program is part of the agency's asteroid initiative, which includes sending a robotic spacecraft to capture a boulder from the surface of a near-Earth asteroid and move it into a stable orbit around the moon for exploration by astronauts, all in support of advancing the nation's journey to Mars.
This flyby might be of no consequence to Earthlings, but Headlines and Global News spoke with astrophysicist John Remo who is currently working on ways to divert near-Earth objects when they get dangerously close to Earth. Remo told HNGN that an asteroid impact is inevitable. Read the exclusive interview here.