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Toutatis Passes Without Incident

According to some conspiracy theorists, the President wassupposed to make an announcement on Tuesday night that theworld was about to end. And the government supposedly shutdown awebsite that dared to break this news. Toutatis was going tobe captured by gravity and impact the Earth, ending all life. But as this is being written, Toutatis is passing byus without incident, the President has no plans to make asurprise announcement, and as for all the websites that werewhipping up Toutatis terror--well, the fun's over, at leastfor a couple of hundred years.

No asteroid this large will come this close to the Earth forat least another hundred years, according to astronomers.Toutatis is, in fact, the biggest asteroid to come thisclose since astronomers have been watching them.

Because of its eccentric shape, Toutais tumbles through asomewhat unpredictable orbit. However, astronomers have beenfollowing it for more than a decade and they are well awareof its orbital eccentricities. The orbit of Toutatis changessomewhat each time it passes through the inner solar system,and goes past Earth.

Scientists have defined the asteroid's orbit to an accuracyequal to the size of the object itself. Because of the wayit tumbles, what it will do over the long term cannot bepredicted, but it will not impact Earth within the next fewcenturies.

Want to predict the future?Here?show.

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