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Asteroid twice the size of Empire State Building passes close to Earth

Asteroid twice the size of Empire State Building passes close to Earth
Space rock will come within 1.2 million miles of planet, experts say

A “potentially hazardous” asteroid twice the size of Empire State Building passed close to Earth on Tuesday, scientists said.

The huge asteroid, which is estimated to be a kilometre wide, flew past Earth at around 4.51pm ET (9.51pm GMT) , according to NASA.

The rock, which is called 7482 (1994 PC1), was passing within 1.2 million miles of our planet, moving at 47,344 miles per hour, says NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, which tracks objects that could collide with the planet.

Experts first discovered the asteroid in 1994, and although it will not hit Earth it is the closest it will come for the next 200 years, NASA predicts.

“Rest assured, 1994 PC1 will safely fly past our planet 1.2 million miles away,” NASA tweeted.

The largest ever asteroid to pass Earth was 3122 Florence (1981 ET3), which shot past the planet on 1 September 2017 and was estimated to be between 2.5 miles and 5.5 miles wide.

Scientists say that it will make another close pass to Earth on 2 September 2057.

Last November NASA launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, which is designed to test the idea that a spacecraft could nudge a potentially dangerous asteroid and change its path enough to protect Earth.

In December the agency released the first pictures from DART’s first images from space, which it called “a major operational milestone for the spacecraft and DART team.”

The DART spacecraft is aiming for Dimorphos, a small moon orbiting the near-Earth asteroid Didymos, and plans to crash into it in September.