A representation of 2012 asteroid DA14 in 2013, which reached 17,000 miles from Earth but did not kill us all, and the next one either. (AP Photo / NASA / JPL-Caltech)
An asteroid larger than any skyscraper built so far is rushing toward Earth, reports Daily Mail . If it arrives on February 4, the newspaper continues, scientists predict a decade of cold and darkness, and heavens strangled with soot and misery all over the planet.
Among these paragraphs, the Post inserts occasional reminders that asteroid 2002 AJ129 failed to hit Earth, according to NASA. In fact, it is predicted that it will not approach more than 2.6 million miles from Earth, despite the classification of the rock as "potentially dangerous" by NASA, a term that the mail has combined with horrendous illustrations of an asteroid that It runs straight to the planet.
The Sun is also in the story: " QUICK AND DANGEROUS? "Meanwhile, the Daily Star has mocked a representation of the asteroid approaching Hyde Park. If he loaded Google on Sunday morning and clicked on "News," he would greet an image of AJ129 boiling an ocean, next to the headline "Doomsday?"
It's no wonder that on Friday, a concerned citizen sending NASA is a link to a report that the asteroid was on a collision course to kill us all, and asked why the agency was not talking about that.
"Because it's a lie", NASA tweeted.
Not even a new lie. AJ129 is one of hundreds of asteroids of a certain size that flew or will fly within 4.65 million miles of Earth and, therefore, NASA classifies them as "potentially dangerous."
It is not predicted that any of them will reach us.  When AJ129 passes closer to Earth next month, NASA has explained, it will still be 10 times farther from us than the moon. And while the headlines are comparing it to the tallest building in the world, it could be as large as two thirds of a mile wide, or as small as 500 yards.
In any case, it will not matter to us because it will not reach us.
"We have been tracking this asteroid for more than 14 years and we know its orbit very accurately," NASA manager Paul Chodas wrote for the agency. "Asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance, zero, of colliding with Earth on February 4 or at any time during the next 100 years."
So, why do the tabloids go crazy about the asteroid? Because they do it all the time.
A few weeks before AJ129 made headlines, the Daily Mail warned of an asteroid the size of a truck "ready to make a close" approach "to Earth at HOURS." He passed harmlessly.
In December, the newspaper was concerned about the DA14 2012. Last summer was the asteroid NY65, which the mail wrote "could potentially annihilate life as we know it." It did not.
Google's "potentially dangerous" asteroids, and you get almost 30,000 results from the Daily Mail alone. Maybe it's because it's predicted that more than 2,000 objects that fit the classification will go to Earth in the future, according to the base of NASA asteroid data. Forget about February 4th. There will be one on Monday.
What does not mean that asteroids are not a concern. As The Washington Post has previously written, a relatively small one crashed into Siberia in 1908 with the force of 1,000 atomic bombs. There have been real close calls in the last decade. Even a small meteor that burned in our atmosphere sent an alarming meteoroid arc across the Michigan sky a few days ago. And if a large asteroid struck the planet, we would probably all die.
That very small but very frightening possibility is the reason why NASA tracks so many space rocks, and gives one that is predicted to happen in a few moons. "Potentially dangerous terminology that gives rise to so many headlines.
The agency conducted a simulation with FEMA in 2016 on what could be done if it were discovered that a large asteroid is in the process of colliding with Earth, it was a grim exercise, involving the mass evacuation of Los Angeles " addresses how to disprove the rumors and false information that could arise in the years prior to the hypothetical impact. "
Fortunately, no such asteroid is known to exist.
Unfortunately, NASA still gets bogged down with rumor management.
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