At around 4:30 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday, two hours before the Patriots and Eagles kick off in Minneapolis, a “potentially hazardous” asteroid will whiz by the earth at 76,000 MPH.
Dubbed 2002 AJ129, the asteroid is a third of a mile across, and despite its “potentially hazardous” label, there’s no chance it hits earth. NASA says it will be 2.6 million miles from earth when it passes, or roughly ten times as far away as the moon. Turns out, all that an asteroid has to do in order to be called “potentially hazardous” is be wider than 500 meters and pass within 4.65 million miles of Earth.
“We have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately,” NASA’s Paul Chodas said in a statement. “Our calculations indicate that asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance — zero — of colliding with Earth on February 4 or any time over the next 100 years.”
As confident as Chodas sounds, it seems worth remembering that on Super Bowl Sunday last year, the was also a near zero chance that the Patriots could come back from a 28-3 deficit to the Falcons. And, well: