Scientists are making sure to pay close attention to an asteroid that may hit Earth, reports MSN.com.
The asteroid, or space rock, is being called 2011 AG5. Scientists believe it to be about 460 feet wide. The space rock may come close enough to Earth in 2040 for it to be enough of a threat for researchers to get together and devise a plan on how to deflect it.
The topic of the asteroid possibly head for Earth was brought up for discussion during the 49th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, or COPUOS, which convened in early February in Vienna.
The asteroid was found a year ago by Mount Lemmon Survey observers in Tucson, Arizona.
Even though researchers are confident about the space rock’s size, its mass and compositional makeup are currently unknown.
“2011 AG5 is the object which currently has the highest chance of impacting Earth… in 2040. However, we have only observed it for about half an orbit, thus the confidence in these calculations is still not very high,” Detlef Koschny of the European Space Agency’s Solar System Missions Division in the Dutch city of Noordwijk explained to Space.com.
Koschny continued, “In our Action Team 14 discussions, we thus concluded that it not necessarily can be called a ‘real’ threat. To do that, ideally, we should have at least one, if not two, full orbits observed.”
The probability of the asteroid 2011 AG5 impacting the Earth on February 5, 2040 are one in 625, according to Donald Yeomans, head of the Near-Earth Object Observations Program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Researchers are not sure about when and if the asteroid will hit since they have only been able to observe it for a short amount of time, the first nine months or 2011, Yeoman’s said to Space.com.
The numbers may change after the space rock has been further observed in 2013 according to the Daily Mail.