Asteroids: Whew!

The mile-wide asteroid heading for Earth proved to be a cosmic false alarm, but that's no reason not to start planning for the next one

It scares me," said Jack Hills, an astronomer at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. "It really does." He and the rest of the world had good reason to be worried. Astronomer Brian Marsden at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics had just announced that a newly discovered asteroid a mile wide was headed for Earth and might pass as close as 30,000 miles in the year 2028. "The chance of an actual collision is small," Marsden reported, "but not entirely out of the question."

An actual collision? With a mile-wide asteroid? It sounded like the stuff of science fiction and grade-B movies....

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