Los Angeles: A 1,400 ft wide asteroid zipped by Earth on Tuesday in the closest encounter by any similar sized space rock in more than three decades. Scientists had earlier ruled out any chance of a collision.
The rock's closest approach to Earth was pegged at a distance of 202,000 miles at 6:28 p.m. EST. This was just inside the moon's orbit with the average distance between Earth and the moon being 239,000 miles.
The last time such a close fly-by took place was in 1976 and space scientists say it won't happen again until 2028.
The quarter-mile-wide asteroid was tracked by Scientists at NASA's Deep Space Network since last week as it approached Earth from the direction of the sun at 29,000 mph.
The asteroid was also tracked by astronomers and amateur sky-gazers around the world.
Any impact on the planet by a similar sized rock would have been catastrophic for such an impact would have carved out a crater four miles across and 1,700 feet deep. If the asteroid should have crashed into the ocean, it would have triggered a 70-foot-high tsunami.
Scientists had been monitoring the spherical, coal-coloured asteroid ever since its discovery six years ago and were confident it posed no danger.