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NASA Says Asteroid 2014 UR116 Is Nothing to Be Afraid Of

Did you hear about 2014 UR116, the recently discovered asteroid that's as big as a mountain and could endanger Earth every three years? If so, never mind. NASA's asteroid experts are knocking down that claim, which came mostly from Russian news media. "While this approximately 400-meter-sized asteroid has a three-year orbital period around the sun and returns to the Earth's neighborhood periodically, it does not represent a threat because its orbital path does not pass sufficiently close to the Earth's orbit," NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office said in a statement issued Monday.

NASA also said Tim Spahr, the director of the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center, combined the orbital projections for 2014 UR116's orbit with those for a previously discovered object in the same orbit. "These computations rule out this object as an impact threat to Earth (or any other planet) for at least the next 150 years," the NEO Program Office said. However, it's still a good idea to beef up the world's resources for finding killer space rocks before they find us.

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— Alan Boyle