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Monday, April 02, 2012
Asteroid Passed Earth on Sunday

Asteroid Passed Earth on Sunday

An asteroid the size of a jumbo jet passed between the Earth and the moon on Sunday, marking the third time an asteroid came that close to Earth's orbit in the past week.

The asteroid named 2012 EG5 came within the orbital paths of the moon and Earth at 5:32 a.m. EDT, according to NASA.

Scientists explained that the asteroid was about 150 feet wide and posed no real danger of intercepting Earth's orbit.

"Asteroid 2012 EG5 will safely pass Earth on April 1," scientists with NASA's Asteroid Watch program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., wrote in a statement.

According to astronomers, the space rock did not pull an April Fools prank, but it did come within 143,000 miles of Earth at its closest approach. That distance is just about half the distance between the Earth and the moon, which keeps a steady orbital distance of around 238,000 miles.

Asteroid 2012 EG5 was the third, relatively small asteroid to buzz the Earth in seven days. Two smaller asteroids passed near Earth on March 26.

Early Monday, the bus-size asteroid 2012 FP35 came within 96,000 miles of Earth. It was followed a few hours later by asteroid 2012 FS35, which is the size of a passenger car and passed Earth at a range of 36,000 miles.

None of those asteroids poised any risk of harming humans as they were too small to survive passing through Earth's atmosphere if they happened to be on a collision course with Earth, according to Asteroid Watch researchers.

This is not the last time near-Earth objects will come close to earth. Astronomers have discovered another asteroid named 2012 FA57. This space rock was discovered on March 28 and will make its near Earth encounter on April 4 as its orbit takes it just beyond that of the moon's.

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