November 5, 2000 Pasadena, California - Asteroids headed towards, or near, earth are in the news again. On Friday, NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office in Pasadena, California announced that a small object discovered on September 29th had a small chance of colliding with this planet in September 2030. In fact, this was the first asteroid-like object to be given a Number One on the Torino scale which measures space collision threats. The scale was developed in 1998 by Richard Binzel, Professor of Planetary Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to help categorize near-earth objects. It's a sliding scale from zero to ten. Zero is no threat. A ten means definite impact that would cause a global catastrophe. A category one means scientists think this new object deserves careful monitoring. Paul Chodas, Principal Engineer for the NEAR Program Office at JPL, said "This is the highest probability of impact that we have ever calculated for an object."
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