TIME Senior Science Editor Jeff Kluger explains, “Earth lives in a shooting gallery of asteroids, any one of which could hit us one day.” If that’s the case though, why were people so worried about the asteroid that buzzed the atmosphere this last week? As Kluger explains, the 140 foot long asteroid flew by at an altitude of only 17,ooo miles. That may sound like a significant distance, but it is in fact 5,000 miles below many of the world’s communication satellites. In other words, not to terribly far from colliding with the planet. But how likely is that really? How often do giant asteroids make it through the atmosphere to crash into the earth?
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