Science & Environment

Nasa: Asteroid 2014 RC flies past Earth

File photo: A view of Earth taken by Nasa astronaut Gregory Reid Wiseman of the US from the International Space Station (ISS) in space, 2 September 2014 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The asteroid was about one-tenth of the distance from Earth to the moon

A small asteroid about the size of a house is passing Earth, US space agency Nasa says.

At its closest point, the asteroid 2014 RC passed over New Zealand at 18:18 GMT on Sunday. It is about 18m (60ft) wide.

Nasa says it is about 40,000km (25,000 miles) away, and posed no danger to Earth.

However, a meteorite that landed near the Nicaraguan capital Managua on Sunday could have come from the asteroid, experts there said.

The object caused an explosion and earth tremor, leaving a crater 12m (39ft) across and 5m deep near the city's airport.

Nicaraguan volcanologist Humberto Garcia said: "It could have come off that asteroid because it is normal for that to occur. We have to study it more because it could be ice or rock."

The asteroid that flew past Earth was first discovered on 31 August and, at its closest approach, was about one-tenth of the distance from the centre of Earth to the Moon, Nasa said in a statement.

It is expected to orbit near Earth again in the future.

In February 2013, a meteorite of a similar size exploded over Chelyabinsk in Central Russia, injuring more than 1,000 people.

Nasa currently tracks more than 11,000 asteroids in orbits that pass relatively close to Earth.

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