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Earth mildly escaped from asteroid 2009 VA

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Asteroids moving in space. Afile photo.

LONDON (PTI): A 26-foot-wide asteroid almost hit the earth when it passed within about 14,000 km of the planet recently, NASA has said.

The asteroid, called 2009 VA, was noticed only 15 hours before it made its closest approach towards the planet last Friday. It came 30 times nearer than the moon, which is 250,000 miles away, the US space agency said.

Similar sized objects pass by this close to earth about twice a year and impact on the planet about once in every five years, it said. This was the third closest known (non-impacting) earth approach by any asteroid.

Astronomers believe the asteroid would have almost completely burned up while entering earth's atmosphere, causing a brilliant fireball in the sky but no major damage to the surface, the Daily Mail reported.

The asteroid was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey on November 6 and was identified by the Minor Planet Centre at Cambridge in Massachusetts as a near earth object.

In March this year, a 100-foot asteroid passed away 45,000 miles above the earth's surface. A similar sized object slammed into Tunguska, Siberia in 1908. The impact created a blast so powerful it levelled 1,200 square miles of forest.

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