US space agency Nasa says a two-mile-wide asteroid, currently hurtling towards the earth at 40,000 miles per hour, will miss us by 16 million miles on Saturday (10 October). Nasa made the announcement in the wake of persistent rumours of various apocalyptic scenarios linked to asteroids, which have been circulating online.
16 million miles is some 64 times the distance to the moon, but still small enough in astronomical terms to warrant Nasa to issue a statement via its Near Earth Object Office. @AsteroidWatch tweeted: "In response to Qs, asteroid 86666 (2000 FL 10) will safely pass Earth October 10 by over 15 million mi/25 million km. It poses zero threat."
In September the internet was buzzing with rumours of a huge asteroid which would trigger the apocalypse, with claims a gigantic rock would smash to earth near Puerto Rico between 15 and 28 September. The so-called "supermoon" and lunar eclipse also led doomsayers to announce the end was nigh - not for the first time.
In 2012, rumours spread that the end of the Mayan calendar on 21 December meant that the end of the world had been predicted. Similar rumours circulated in 2011 about a comet called Elenin. Earlier this year two other asteroids - 2004 BL86 and 2014 YB35 - also missed the earth by large margins.
With the rise in social media, Nasa has found itself having to put out a steady stream of statements to reassure the public - or at least those parts of the public susceptible to end-of-world conspiracy theories. Nasa's Near-Earth Object office manager Paul Chodas says there is little chance of a major asteroid colliding with earth any time soon. "All known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids have less than a '0.01 per cent chance of impacting Earth in the next 100 years."