AUSTIN -- While a meteor exploded over the skies of Chelyabinsk, Russia early Friday, a much bigger asteroid – 2012 DA14 -- flew harmlessly by Earth Friday afternoon.
The giant rock was about 150 feet long or about half the height of the Texas State Capitol. Asteroids that size fly by Earth approximately every 40 years.
According to NASA, it flew within 17,200 miles of Earth, which is lower than the orbit of communications satellites.
University of Texas astronomy professor Dr. Judit Gyorgyey Ries says Friday's flyby, as well as the meteor over Russia, show the importance of tracking near-earth objects.
“What I am excited about is that we knew it ahead of time. We knew it a year ahead of time that it’s going to happen, which shows that the search programs are really doing their job, and not just the search programs, but astronomers, who are keeping track of these little buddies,” she said. "In spite of this being a close encounter and that thing reaching Russia, don't lose sleep over it."
The asteroid’s flyby was not visible from Austin.