NASA Says Recently Discovered 400-Meter Near-Earth Asteroid is Not a Threat

Posted on December 10, 2014

NASA says a recently discovered 400-meter asteroid, Asteroid 2014 UR116, is not an impact threat to Earth. The asteroid was discovered on October 27, 2014 by astronomers at the MASTER-II observatory in Kislovodsk, Russia.

NASA says in a statement that some recent press reports have suggested the asteroid is an impact threat to Earth. NASA says, "While this approximately 400-meter sized asteroid has a three year orbital period around the sun and returns to the Earth's neighborhood periodically, it does not represent a threat because its orbital path does not pass sufficiently close to the Earth's orbit."

NASA is correct that there are some scary headlines out there like this one in The Telegraph that reads, "Mountain-sized Asteroid is Heading Towards Earth, says Scientist." The article also contains an image of a huge asteroid heading towards Earth. The article itself correctly states that the asteroid is not a threat. Even the astronomer who discovered it - Professor Vladimir Lipunov from Moscow State University - says the asteroid "poses no immediate threat."

Prof. Lipunov does stress the need to track the asteroid. He says, "We need to permanently track this asteroid, because even a small mistake in calculations could have serious consequences."

NASA's Near Earth Object Program (NEO) tracks large and potentially dangerous asteroids that could impact the Earth. There are potentially many large unknown asteroids out there. The more of these that can be added to the list of monitored and tracked asteroid the better. NEO says in a FAQ that it is currently tracking nearly 12,000 Near-Earth objects and 1523 of these have been classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs).