Asteroid won't hit earth Monday
A newly discovered asteroid by the name of "2011 MD" passed by the Earth over the South Atlantic on Monday at approximately 1 p.m. ET, according to The Washington Post, missing a direct hit by only 7,500 miles. To put that in relatable terms it is about 3 percent of the distance between the Earth and the Moon or about as far from the Eastern U.S. as Afghanistan. A long way for earthlings, but as an interstellar encounter a definite near miss.
These small near earth asteroids are hard to track -- NASA just isn't equipped to monitor them -- and often aren't discovered until within a week of coming close to the planet.
"It's estimated that there are nearly a billion objects this size or somewhat larger in near-Earth space," writes Steve Tracton on The Post's Capital Weather Gang blog.
A direct hit could either cause damage anywhere from mild (a small fireball) to catastrophic (the force of an atomic bomb). Last year, a bill was introduced in Congress to provide more funds to tracking near earth objects and establish some kind of "planetary defense." It never became law.