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NASA: Reports of Earth-destroying asteroid false

No need to rush to finish that doomsday bunker.

Officials at NASA say that widely-shared claims of a planet-wrecking asteroid hurtling through space and destined to collide with Earth sometime between Sept. 15 and 28 are false. Totally false.

"There is no scientific basis — not one shred of evidence — that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth on those dates," said a statement from Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The rumors were posted recently on numerous blogs and went viral. They claim that the asteroid will hit near Puerto Rico and devastate the coasts of the United States, Mexico, and Central and South America.

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Apparently, they were getting enough attention that the agency felt compelled to release a statement this week to reassure people their world was not about to end.

Officials said that no asteroids or comets or other celestial objects have been observed that would impact Earth any time in the foreseeable future, and all known potentially hazardous asteroids have a less than 0.01 percent change of impacting Earth in the next century.

"If there were any object large enough to do that type of destruction in September, we would have seen something of it by now," Chodas' statement said.

NASA said it uses telescopes to monitor the presence, physical characteristics, and projected path of asteroids and comets passing within 30 million miles of Earth.

The agency said similar "wild, unsubstantiated" claims have been made before.

In 2011, there were rumors that comet Elenin would destroy Earth. But it broke up into a stream of small debris in space, never posing a danger to our planet.

Then came claims that a large asteroid would end the world's existence on Dec. 21, 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar. No asteroid damage was reported on that date, however.

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Earlier this year, a pair of asteroids were rumored to be on track to smash into Earth, but instead they whizzed on by "without incident — just as NASA said they would," the agency wrote.

And officials at NASA expect this won't be the last baseless rumor they'll have to debunk.

"It seems to be a perennial favorite of the World Wide Web," the agency said in a statement.


Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele