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Last-Second Shocker: Bus-Sized Asteroid Will Just Miss Striking Earth… Today!

Near-miss… (Image: NASA)

A newly-discovered asteroid the size of a bus will come within 7,500 miles of striking our planet early this afternoon, Space.com reports.

The asteroid, named 2011 MD, was only spotted last Wednesday by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research Center (LINEAR), a pair of robotic telescopes in New Mexico specifically built to scan space for asteroids on a collision course with the Earth.

While 2011 MD won’t hit our planet this time around, Raw Story says it could strike on its next orbital passage in 2022.

2011 MD is estimated to be between 29 to 98 feet (nine to 30 meters) long, meaning that even if it did enter the Earth’s atmosphere, it would most likely burn up and not make impact with the surface. “There is no change that 2011 MD will hit Earth but scientists will use the close pass as opportunity to study it with radar observations,” astronomers at NASA’s Asteroid Watch tweeted on Thursday.

According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, an asteroid of this size is expected to come close to Earth every six years or so. This February, an asteroid named 2011 CQ1 came within 3,400 miles– the distance between Anchorage, Alaska and New Orleans– of striking our planet.

Today’s asteroid will pass so close to Earth that you could see it with a moderate to large amateur telescope. But it won’t be easy– Space.com says you’ll need an excellent star atlas and the very latest data from the Minor Planet Center to track it because of how incredibly fast it will be moving. The close approach to Earth will also mean that 2011 MD’s trajectory will be sharply altered.

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