Asteroid to Pass Close to Earth on Sunday

  • Sep 5, 2014 3:42pm GMT
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(CNN) -- A newly discovered asteroid will pass "very close" to Earth on Sunday, NASA says. The space rock is estimated to be 60 feet (18 meters) long. It's expected to fly over New Zealand about 2:18 p.m. EDT (11:18 a.m. PDT / 18:18 UTC.)

It won't hit Earth or any of the thousands of satellites orbiting the planet, NASA says. It will give astronomers and scientists a chance to study it.

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NASA is trying to speed up the way it tracks potentially hazardous asteroids and to learn how to deflect rocks that threaten Earth. Its Asteroid Initiative includes a plan to capture an asteroid and tug it into orbit around the moon in the 2020s. If it works, astronauts will land on the asteroid, take samples and bring them back to Earth.