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Asteroid Near Earth: 2014 EC Even Closer Than One From 2 Days Before

By Ken Mandel   |   Friday, 07 Mar 2014 03:13 PM

For the second time in two days, an asteroid cruised near Earth.

Asteroid 2014 EC came within 38,300 miles of the planet on Thursday, Space.com says, six times closer than the orbit of the moon.

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The asteroid measured 25 feet wide and zipped past Earth at 4:21 p.m. EST, NASA officials told Space.com. The moon by comparison orbits Earth at an average distance of 239,000 miles.

"This is not an unusual event," Paul Chodas, a senior scientist in the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "Objects of this size pass this close to the Earth several times every year."

A day earlier, the nearly 100-foot-wide 2014 DX110 asteroid came within 217,000 miles of Earth.

2014 EC was discovered March 4 and is roughly half as wide as the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013, which injured 1,500 people.

Researchers said the 2014 EC asteroid posed no threat to Earth on this pass, and the chances it will ever hit are 1 in 2.7 million, according to Space.com

Also this week, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope photographed what is believed to be a first: the breaking up of the P/2013 R3 asteroid into as many as 10 pieces, according to Space.com.

Scientists have become more interested in studying asteroids to protect Earth from a possible deadly encounter, as well as attempting to discover clues on the birth of the universe. In April 2013, NASA unveiled a proposed $17.7 billion budget that included plans to "capture and redirect an asteroid into orbit around Earth so astronauts can study it," according to Computerworld.com.

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