POSTED: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 11:00am
UPDATED: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 11:04am
NBC News — An asteroid is expected to fly 17,200 miles above the earth's surface friday. Scientists say there's no chance of impact, but it's the largest known object of its size to pass this close to earth. The asteroid is around 150 feet in diameter. That's close to the length of an Olympic sized swimming pool, or about the length of half a football field.
For scientists, it's a rare but short opportunity to study an asteroid up close. Astronomers also want to learn more about its spin rate, and they'll be trying to determine what minerals it contains. The information will be useful in plotting the asteroid's future visits and could help engineers develop techniques to thwart more threatening asteroids. The head of the European Space Agency's space debris office says the asteroid has nothing to do with the meteor event in Russia's Ural Mountains.