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Small asteroid passes near Earth
Posted: Thu, Jan 14, 2010, 6:37 AM ET (1137 GMT)
A small object believed to be an asteroid passed near the Earth Wednesday. The object, 2010 AL30, came within 122,000 kilometers of the Earth at 7:46 am EST (1246 GMT) Wednesday. The object had been discovered just Sunday. There had been some speculation that the object might be a spent rocket stage from a previous launch, such as for ESA's Venus Express mission, but scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said it's more likely, given the object's orbit, that it is an asteroid about 10-15 meters across. Such objects pass closer to the Earth than the Moon's orbit about once a week, and if it had been on a collision course it would have burned up in the Earth's atmosphere.
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