A Massive Asteroid Will Not Hit Earth in February, NASA Assures Us
One of the quickest ways to cause a space-related panic (besides news of an imminent alien invasion) is to tell people that an asteroid bigger than the world's tallest building is headed toward our planet. According to NASA, recent claims of a "close approach" in February are true, but the parts about it being potentially dangerous are all hype.
"We have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately," said Paul Chodas of the Center for Near-Earth-Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. "Our calculations indicate that asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance—zero—of colliding with Earth on Feb. 4 or any time over the next 100 years." According to NASA, the "close approach" will happen around 4:30 pm EST on February 4, and even then it will miss us by about 2.6 million miles.
Because its orbit takes it very close to the Sun, when 2002 AJ129 flies by next month it will be moving faster than most near-Earth objects at an estimated 76,000 mph. The asteroid is classified as a PHA (Potentially Hazardous Asteroid), which is where some of the confusion and unnecessary panic may have stemmed from.
So if you're alive and reading this in 2018 and believe the experts like Chodas, then you have nothing to worry about from this asteroid in February or the 99 Februarys that follow. That doesn't mean that we are safe from all space rocks, but at least we can cross another one off of the list.