BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Earth will get an interstellar pregame show on Super Bowl Sunday as a large asteroid is scheduled to pass by the planet just hours before the big game.
According to NASA, 2002 AJ129 is a medium-sized asteroid that’s between one-third and three-quarters of a mile across. While the giant space rock has officially been listed as a “potentially hazardous asteroid” because of its size and relative closeness to the Earth, scientists say 2002 AJ129 will still be 2.6 million miles away from the planet when it flies by.
“We have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately,” NASA’s Paul Chodas said in a statement. “Our calculations indicate that asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance — zero — of colliding with Earth on Feb. 4 or any time over the next 100 years.”
The Super Bowl asteroid is predicted to pass by the Earth at around 4:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 4., just two hours before the Eagles and Patriots kick off that night. Rival fans who may have been hoping for some cosmic interference to stop Philadelphia and New England from playing will be disappointed to know that 2002 AJ129 isn’t even the closest near-miss in the last four months.
In October, a house-sized asteroid came within a mere 26,000 miles of the planet. NASA actually used that close encounter to test how well its planetary defense system would work if an asteroid were really on a collision course for Earth.
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)