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Countdown to Tunguska? An astronomer warns about new asteroid, possibly getting too close to Earth

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16 March 2012


A space expers said that the world could face a Tunguska Mark Two, as a sixty metre asteroid hurtles in the direction of Earth next February.

The asteroid DA14 is estimated to pass 27,000 kilometres from the planet though US National Aeronautics and Space Administration expert David Dunham has suggested the gravitational pull of the Earth will 'considerably' alter its path.

He claimed 'further scrupulous calculation is required to estimate the threat of collision'.

Dario de la Cruz, chief astronomer of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said the impact of a 60-metre asteroid would not affect the entire planet.

He likened its potential destruction to the magnitude of the Tunguska blast or explosion in Siberia 112 years ago. 

The force knocked down trees over a total area of 2,150 square miles, almost the size of Luxembourg.

Accounts vary but the explosion is now understood to have been caused by the air burst of a large meteoroid or comet fragment rather than an asteroid crashing to Earth.

This explosion was at an altitude of between five and ten kilometres above the Tunguska area in what is now Krasnoyarsk region.

The energy of the blast was the equivalent of ten to 15 megatons of TNT, seen as the largest-ever known impact over land in Earth's recent history.

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