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Words in the News
 
Friday 19 March 2004
 
Space rock makes closest flyby
 
A Nasa impression of an asteroid hitting the Earth The United States Space Agency, NASA, says that a newly discovered asteroid, thirty metres in diameter, is about to make the closest approach to Earth ever recorded.This report from Helen Briggs.
 
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The asteroid will brush past our planet within the orbit of the Moon coming as close as the orbit of many satellites. It should be visible through binoculars from parts of Europe, Asia and most of the Southern Hemisphere as a faint star-like object moving slowly across the sky. The asteroid was spotted on Monday during an automated survey by a pair of NASA telescopes.

Similar-sized objects are believed to pass close to the Earth every two years or so but aren't normally detected in advance. NASA says there's no danger of this asteroid hitting the planet. And even if it did, at 30 metres across, it would probably break up in the atmosphere and only small pieces would reach the ground.
It's a reminder, nevertheless, of the risks of near-Earth objects -- there are believed to be more than a thousand asteroids with the potential to collide with the planet at some point in the future.

Helen Briggs, BBC Science
 
 
Listen Listen to the words
 
brush past
 
to pass very close to something, almost touching it
 
orbit
 
the curved path an object follows when it goes around a moon, a planet or the sun
 
visible
 
it can be seen
 
faint
 
not very bright or clear
 
star-like
 
similar to a star
 
spotted
 
seen, noticed
 
a reminder
 
something that makes you think of something else
 
potential
 
ability
 
collide with
 
hit, crash into
 
at some point in the future
 
any time in the future
 
 
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