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‘Potentially hazardous’ asteroid has ‘zero’ chance of hitting Earth as it hurtles by on Super Bowl Sunday

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‘Potentially hazardous’ asteroid has ‘zero’ chance of hitting Earth as it hurtles by on Super Bowl Sunday
WATCH ABOVE: An asteroid over a kilometre wide poses no risk and has "zero" chance of hitting the Earth when it flies by Earth on Super Bowl Sunday, experts say – Jan 24, 2018

An asteroid that’s over a kilometre wide is set to make a close approach to Earth, whizzing past the planet at a speed over 122,000 km/h on Super Bowl Sunday.

The interstellar object, dubbed asteroid 2002 AJ129, will skim past Earth on Feb. 4, making its closest approach at about 4:30 p.m. ET, according to NASA.

According to the space agency, the intermediate-sized asteroid will come within about 4.2 million kilometres of Earth, which is 10 times the distance between the planet and the moon.

READ MORE: Asteroid to zoom right by Earth this week, and scientists are watching closely

Though NASA has formally categorized the asteroid as a “potentially hazardous” object, 2002 AJ129 poses no threat to Earth.

“We have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately,” Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, said in a statement. “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.”

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According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, asteroids that pass within a certain proximity to Earth are categorized as being “potentially hazardous.” Objects that are larger than about 150 metres and pass within 7.5 million kilometres to Earth, get the seemingly scary categorization.

READ MORE: The Chelyabinsk meteor explosion, one year later

However, smaller asteroids and comets make close approaches to Earth almost on a daily basis. According to NASA’s near-Earth object tracker, three asteroids will skim past the planet Wednesday, the closest being a mere 1.1 million kilometres from Earth, while another object will pass by on Friday and again Saturday.

In 2005, NASA set out to find 90 per cent of all near-Earth object that are 140 metres and larger by the end of 2020. The agency estimated that there are about 25,000 of these objects and as of November of last year, 7,800 have been discovered and catalogued.

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