Asteroid zips past earth in close shave

The space rock, called asteroid 2011 MD, reached its closest point to earth just after 17:00 GMT on Monday, when it crept within 12,000km of the planet before whipping away again like a slingshot.

The asteroid, which was discovered on June 22, was flying over the southern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Antarctica at the time of its closest approach. But, there was never any risk of it impacting earth.

“The asteroid was flying over the southern Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Antarctica, at the time of its closest approach,” space.com reported.

The asteroid belonged to those rather diminutive group of space rocks, and no harm was predicted by astronomers even as it closed in on earth. Asteroids this size can be expected to buzz earth with close shaves about once every six years.

The space rock flew well below geosynchronous satellites, which orbit 35,786 km above earth, but well above the 354-km altitude of the International Space Station.

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