Experts say it's just coincidence that a meteorite and an asteroid are making news on the same day.
A flaming meteor that streaked over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia's Ural Mountains on Friday, causing powerful explosions that shattered windows and injured hundreds, is unrelated to the asteroid that is hurtling close to Earth today, scientists said.
The 150-foot asteroid, named 2012 DA14, is on course to make the closest known flyby of Earth for a rock of its size. But NASA said there was no chance it would smash into Earth. The closest it would come was 17,150 miles, scientists estimated -- closer than many communication and weather satellites but well far enough to avoid catastrophe.
"No Earth impact is possible," Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object program at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said Thursday.
Scientists at the European Space Agency discounted any link between the meteor that streaked across Russia and the asteroid flyby. They tweeted: ESA experts at #ESOC confirm *no* link between #meteor incidents in #Russia & #Asteroid #2012DA14 Earth flyby tonite."
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Russia's space agency Roscosmos said the meteorite was travelling at a speed of 19 miles per second and that such events were hard to predict
Yeomans told SPACE.com on Friday that the object that slammed into a sparsely populated part of Russia was most likely a type of fireball meteor known as a bolide.
"The asteroid will travel south to north," Yeomans said. "The bolide trail was not south to north and the separation in time between the fireball and 2012 DA14 close approach is significant."
Experts say smaller meteorite strikes happen a few times a year. Large impacts such as the one Friday in Russia are rarer but still occur about every five years, according to Addi Bischoff, a mineralogist at the University of Muenster in Germany. Most of these strikes happen in uninhabited areas where they don't injure humans.
""We just have the incredible coincidence of this happening just before the asteroid flies by," asteroid expert Richard Binzel of MIT told USA Today.
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