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Asteroid Expected To Pass (Sort Of) Close To Earth On Christmas Eve

We're probably going to be OK, at least for now.

Posted on December 24, 2015, at 11:25 a.m. ET

These images of asteroid 2003 SD220 were taken on Dec. 17 (left) and Dec. 22 (right) by scientists using NASA's giant Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR

These images of asteroid 2003 SD220 were taken on Dec. 17 (left) and Dec. 22 (right) by scientists using NASA's giant Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California.

An asteroid is expected to fly relatively close to earth on Thursday, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement.

The asteroid, known as 2003 SD220, is about 3,600 feet long. For reference, the asteroid that some scientists believe may have caused the mass extinction that killed off many dinosaur species is believe to have been over 6 miles in diameter.

Luckily, there's no cause for panic just yet — the asteroid is projected to pass about 6.8 million miles away from Earth.

"There is no cause for concern over the upcoming flyby of asteroid 2003 SD220 this Christmas Eve," Paul Chodas, the manager of NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies, said in a statement. "The closest this object will come to Santa and his eight tiny reindeer is about 28 times the distance between Earth and the moon."

But don't get too comfortable, in 2018 and 2070, the asteroid is expected to fly past us at only about 1.8 million miles away.


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