Marshall Space Center talks cosmic coincidence - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Marshall Space Center talks cosmic coincidence

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NASA Meteor Physicist Rhiannon Blaauw NASA Meteor Physicist Rhiannon Blaauw
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

A massive asteroid buzzed by Earth and a fiery meteor made direct impact, all in the same day.

The two events are nothing more than a cosmic coincidence.

While the meteor was a surprise to NASA, the asteroid was not. Scientists have been tracking the rock since last year.

Asteroid 2012 DA-14 passed by our planet Friday afternoon, missing the earth by just 17,000 miles.

That makes it the closest known fly-by for a rock of its size.

However, the asteroid didn't come close enough to be considered a close call.

There was no danger to us since NASA was able to pinpoint its orbit so precisely.

"Anything that is about six tenths of a mile across or larger could do significant damage to earth. The space guard survey catalogs those objects. We are confident that over 90 percent of those have been catalogued. The closer these objects get to Earth, the easier it is for us to see them," said NASA Meteor Physicist Rhiannon Blaauw.

Meantime, an unexpected meteor hit Russia's Siberia region early Friday morning, triggering a shock wave that blew out windows, collapsed a roof, and injured close to 1,000 people.

The meteor was about the size of a school bus and created a giant hole when it hit the ground.

Experts say the blast's force was equivalent to an atomic bomb.

While the damage was significant, experts say it could have been much worse had it hit a more populated place.

"If this event had occurred over New York City, it could have caused more damage. In theory, if this was a much denser object that came in at a steeper entry angle, it could have done more damage," explained Blaauw.

However, it's a rare event. The last time a meteor this large hit the earth was back in 1908.

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