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'Dangerous' asteroid safely flies past Earth - astronomer

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, January 13 (RIA Novosti) - An asteroid named 2010 AL30 whose unusual orbit frightened astronomers two days ago safely flew past Earth at a distance of 130,000 km (80,796 miles) on Wednesday.

The asteroid some 10-15 meters long with parameters similar to a man-made object was discovered by the LINEAR survey of MIT's Lincoln Laboratories last Sunday.

"The asteroid posed no danger anyway," said astronomer Leonid Yelenin from the Moscow-based Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics. He classified asteroids of over 100 meters in diameter as being dangerous.

Yelenin said the theory about the artificial origins of 2010 AL30 was unlikely to be confirmed.

"Its orbital period is equal to the time Earth orbits the sun. A strange orbit - they thought at first it was a man-made object - a rocket booster, but this has not been confirmed," he said.

Alan Harris, senior researcher at the U.S. Space Science Institute said on Tuesday the object had a "perfectly ordinary Earth-crossing orbit."

"Unlikely to be artificial, its orbit doesn't resemble any useful spacecraft trajectory, and its encounter velocity with Earth is not unusually low," he said.

Yelenin also said the calculations were not quite exact: the asteroid that was expected to come closest to Earth at about 12:48 GMT did so at 06:45 GMT.

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