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February 13 2013

Near-Miss Asteroid Highlights Earth's Risk Of A Nuke-Sized Collision

The asteroid 2012 DA14, which will come within about 17,000 miles of Earth on February 15, is about half the size of a football stadium, and in a collision would generate an explosive energy equivalent to 2,500 kilotons of TNT. In comparison, the atomic bomb over Hiroshima that instantly killed more than 70,000 people released “merely” the equivalent of 17 kilotons of TNT. Seventeen-thousand miles seems like plenty of room, but in cosmic terms, it's an awfully close shave. “Remember, the Earth is a moving target, traveling around the sun at 65,000 miles per hour,” former astronaut Ed Lu said in a public appearance at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research earlier this month. “So [the asteroid] is missing us by only about 14 minutes.”

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