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Asteroid has slight impact risk
Updated: Sat, Dec 25, 2004, 2:27 PM ET (1927 GMT)
Originally Posted: Fri, Dec 24, 2004, 11:52 AM ET (1652 GMT)
Asteroid impact illustration (Don Davis/NASA) A newly-discovered asteroid has a slight chance of colliding with the Earth in 2029, but astronomers are confident the possibility will disappear with further observations. The asteroid, 2004 MN4, was discovered in June and reobserved last week. Calculations of the asteroid's orbit based on the current set of observations shows that there is a 1-in-300 chance of the object colliding with the Earth on April 13, 2029. Late Friday the odds improved to a 1-in-60 chance of an impact. These impact odds, and its size approximately 400 meters in diameter have led NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office to rate the object a 2 on the 0-to-10 Torino Scale of impact risk, the highest-ever rating ever applied to an object since the scale's introduction several years ago. This rating means that the impact odds "are unusual enough to merit special monitoring by astronomers, but should not be of public concern." Further observations are likely to diminish, if not completely eliminate, any impact risk, based on past experience.
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