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Asteroid Bigger Than Eiffel Tower and More Powerful Than Hiroshima Hurtling Near Earth

An asteroid bigger than a 100 storey building was tracked by NASA as it careered past Earth early on Saturday, highlighting the threat posed towards our planet by space rocks. The asteroid, known as 2006 QQ23, could have hit with a force 500 times that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, had it been travelling along a different trajectory. A video shows a model of the asteroid, which is 1860 feet in diameter at its widest point, orbiting closely to Earth.

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2006 QQ23 hurtled past Earth on Saturday, in what is reported to be the closest call of an asteroid hitting the planet since 2001. Although 2006 QQ23 missed Earth by 4.6million miles, NASA considered the asteroid to be “potentially hazardous”. The incident triggered fears another large, not yet known of, asteroid could be on a collision course with Earth. Danica Remy, president of the nonprofit organisation B612 Foundation, works to protect the planet from asteroids.

She said:
 “It’s 100 percent certain that we’re going to get hit, but we’re not 100 percent certain when. The real issue is that we need to have an inventory of all the asteroids.”

Fortunately, NASA has not yet discovered such an asteroid, estimating that at least 95 percent of asteroids 1km (3,280 feet) or larger have been recorded, with none posing a threat to the planet. Space rocks as large as 2006 QQ23, however, would wipe out an entire city and wreak widespread destruction in a direct collision, according to NASA.

A simulation from NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies in May demonstrated the impact of an object such as 2006 QQ23 would kill 1.3million people. Kelly Fast, manager of NASA’s Near Earth Object Observation program, said:
“The whole point is to be able to find all of these asteroids and to catalog their orbits precisely and to calculate them into the future. So, you know if it is going to pass 19 lunar distances away like 2006 QQ23. Or if it is going to pass closer — or if it is going to pose an impact threat.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has previously warned about the dangers of an asteroid collision. While no collision is predicted over the next 100 years he warned it couldn’t be completely ruled out. ASA's Mr Bridenstine commented:
“We have to make sure that people understand that this is not about Hollywood, it's not about the movies. This is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know, right now, to host life - and that is the planet Earth.”

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