THE good news is that astronomers have identified an asteroid that could be on a collision course with Earth. The bad news is that they have lost it.

The object, called 1998 OX4, was found last year by a team at the University of Arizona, who tracked it for two weeks.

The information the scientists gathered gave an approximate orbit for the object, which is believed to be several hundred yards in diameter and capable of continent-wide destruction if it were to collide with Earth.

A team at the University of Pisa, led by Dr Andrea Milani, used the orbital information to calculate the chances of a collision. He told a conference in Turin last week that there was a one-in-ten-million chance that it would hit the Earth in 2046 - slightly better odds than the 14 million to one on winning the National Lottery.

Source: Flight Daily News