Nasa explodes asteroid fears after collision prediction
Concerns that space rock 2011 AG5 will cause death and destruction in 2040 are dismissed
NASA has poured cold water on the far-fetched suggestion that millions could be killed by an asteroid colliding with earth in 2040.
Earlier this week there was a welter of media reports spawned by fears that the space rock, called 2011 AG5, would slam into our planet in 28 years' time, causing death and destruction on a massive scale.
Concerns grew after the asteroid came up at a meeting of the rather sinister-sounding UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), held in Vienna last month.
And Detlef Koschny of the European Space Agency even warned: "2011 AG5 is the object which currently has the highest chance of impacting the Earth ... in 2040."
Website Space.com reported that there had been calls to start developing plans to try and deflect the asteroid, just as Bruce Willis did in the film Armageddon, and the Daily Mail spelled out the dangers. "Were the rock to land on a city it could cause millions of deaths, although mankind would live through it," it reported.
However, the chances of it hitting the earth have been put at 625 to one, and Nasa does not expect them to increase. If anything the odds will get longer when scientists have the chance to take a proper look at the rock next year.
Now Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has issued a "scientific reality check" that will disappoint doom-sayers who have been eagerly anticipating the apocalypse.
It points out that the rock only merits a measly one on the excellently-named Torino Impact Hazard Scale. And Nasa's Don Yeomans said: "Because of the extreme rarity of an impact by a near-Earth asteroid of this size, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce or rule out entirely any impact probability for the foreseeable future."
Doom-mongers disappointed by Nasa's conclusions can take heart from the fact that, what with the end of the world already due this year and other apocalyptic events, including supervolcanoes, global warming and UFOs in the pipeline, we probably won't make it to 2040 anyway.