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Posted by Asterix on September 29, 2004 at 16:26:17:
Huge asteroid to fly past Earth
No chance of collision with Earth
By Robert Roy Britt
SPACE.com -- The largest asteroid ever known to pass near Earth is making a close celestial brush with the planet this week in an event that professional and backyard astronomers are watching closely.
The space rock, named Toutatis, will not hit Earth, despite rumors of possible doom that have circulated the Internet for months. Humanity is very fortunate there won't be an impact, as the asteroid is large enough to cause global devastation. Toutatis is about 2.9 miles long and 1.5 miles wide (4.6 by 2.4 kilometers).
On September 29, Toutatis will be within a million miles of Earth, or about four times the distance to the Moon.
No space rock this big will pass so close in the next century, scientists say. And while similarly large asteroids have hit the planet in the distant past, none so big have come so close since astronomers have had the means to notice them. Many smaller space rocks have been spotted much closer, even inside the orbit of the moon.