Asteroids regularly pass by Earth, as depicted here. A new NASA system called Scout aims to identify the ones that will come closest to the planet. P. Carril/ESA hide caption

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P. Carril/ESA

NASA's New 'Intruder Alert' System Spots An Incoming Asteroid

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Freddie Mercury is seen here performing with Queen bandmate Brian May. This week, May announced that an asteroid has been named in Mercury's honor. Ian Dickson/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

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Ian Dickson/Redferns/Getty Images

Geophysicists announced this week that they have successfully collected key samples from the site of the asteroid strike that likely wiped out the dinosaurs. Joe Tucciarone/Science Source hide caption

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Joe Tucciarone/Science Source

Geologists Find Clues In Crater Left By Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid

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Dwarf planet Ceres is seen in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, where it resides well away from Earth. NASA is hoping to quell online rumors that a massive near-Earth asteroid is due to hit us next month. NASA/Reuters/Landov hide caption

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NASA/Reuters/Landov

For helping to find asteroids, NASA has set up a contest with cash awards. In 2012, the agency said that "more potentially hazardous asteroids, or PHAs, are closely aligned with the plane of our solar system than previous models suggested." NASA hide caption

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NASA

These NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope images reveal a never-before-seen set of six comet-like tails radiating from a body in the asteroid belt designated P/2013 P5. NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (University of California, Los Angeles), J. Agarwal (Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research), H. Weaver (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory), M. Mutchler (STScI), and S. Larson (University of Arizona) hide caption

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NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (University of California, Los Angeles), J. Agarwal (Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research), H. Weaver (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory), M. Mutchler (STScI), and S. Larson (University of Arizona)

Radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2, taken when the cosmic traveler was about 3.75 million miles from Earth, revealed that the asteroid, with a 1.7-mile diameter, has a moon or satellite revolving around it. NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR

A meteor's vapor trail above the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Friday. Vyacheslav Nikulin /EPA /LANDOV hide caption

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Vyacheslav Nikulin /EPA /LANDOV

An illustration of what asteroid 2012 DA 14 may look like as it approaches Earth. NASA/JPL-CalTech/EPA /LANDOV hide caption

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NASA/JPL-CalTech/EPA /LANDOV

Nell Greenfieldboyce, for the NPR Newscast

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