Jumbo jet-size asteroid to give Earth a close shave - KMOV.com

Jumbo jet-size asteroid to give Earth a close shave

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(Meredith) -- A near-Earth asteroid is expected to buzz by the planet on May 15, and scientists said it's the size of a jumbo jet.

Asteroid 2010 WC9 is projected to be between 125 feet and 390 feet wide, according to Space.com, and astronomers reported that the rock will pass the Earth by only 126,000 miles.

The rock is traveling at an estimated 29,000 miles per hour. Space.com noted that it's very rare for an asteroid to get this close.

The asteroid was first spotted by astronomers in 2010 and at the time, scientists were unable to track its orbit around the sun. After several years of observation, the rock's orbit was mapped out, Space.com reported.

Astronomers said 2010 WC9 orbits the sun every 1.12 years.

While the space rock isn't expected to strike the Earth, scientists noted that such an impact would not be an extinction level event. 

Asteroids larger than 0.6 miles in length would be likely contenders, according to NASA.   

However, an impact would cause significant damage. Space.com noted that the explosion over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013 would be more comparable to 2010 WC9. That space rock was only 65 feet wide; it shattered thousands of windows and injured about 1,500 people. 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory told NBC News that asteroids the size of 2010 WC9 strike the Earth every 6,000 years. 

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