A Near Miss From Outer Space

Earth received a cosmic calling card last week. It arrived in the form of a huge rock, about 1,000 ft. in diameter, that hurtled past the planet at 68,000 m.p.h. The asteroid, newly dubbed 2001 YB5, missed us by some 500,000 miles, about twice our distance from the moon. For astronomers, however, that was a hairbreadth, and a dramatic reminder that space is filled with debris that has devastated our planet in the past and could very likely to do so again.

Had 2001 YB5 been on target, says Donald Yeomans, a senior scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it would...

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