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It will be a close encounter of the asteroid kind. From outer space a celestial visitor about the size of an Olympic swimming pool is hurtling towards earth.

A group of amateur astronomers in Spain discovered the asteroid last year since when its path has been tracked.

The chunk of space rock known as 2012 DA14 is predicted to zoom by earth next Friday coming closest over the United States.

“The close approach of this object 2012 DA14 on February 15th is nothing to worry about. Its orbit is very well known, we know exactly where it’s going to go and it cannot hit the earth,” explained Donald Yeomans, Manager of the Near Earth Objects Office at NASA.

How close is close? Its calculated the spinning rock will be just over 17,000 miles from us, that is closer than any of the communication, television and weather satellites which fly about 5000 miles higher in the sky. But it begs the question what if?

It is spinning through the sky at about eight miles per hour. Scientists have worked out an object of the size of 2012 DA14 at that speed would strike the earth with a force similar to that of about 2.4 million tons of dynamite – enough to wipe out an area the size of San Francisco bay.

In 1908 an asteroid or comet exploded over Siberia. Eighty-million trees were levelled in that collision.

Watch the asteroid pass by live on euronews and euronews.com on February 15th at 20pm CET.

Regarder le passage de l’astéroïde en direct sur euronews et sur euronews.com vendredi 15 février à partir de 20h.

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