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Earth escapes obliteration by comet

Elenin breaks up into teeny bits and misses planet

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NASA has released another statement on Comet Elenin, the totally insignificant comet it keeps giving out statements about, to say that it has broken up into "smaller, even less significant, chunks of dust and ice".

"This trail of piffling particles will remain on the same path as the original comet, completing its unexceptional swing through the inner solar system this fall," the statement added.

The space boffins' protestation comes after widespread internet rumours that Comet Elenin was not in the least bit insignificant and would a) crash into the Earth and obliterate all life, b) pass close enough to the planet that its gravitational pull would cause loads of earthquakes and similar cataclysms and obliterate all life or c) do any number of other apocalyptic things that would obliterate all life.

Back in August, NASA assured the planet that while "often, comets are portrayed as harbingers of gloom and doom in movies and on television, most pose no threat to Earth".

The totally clear wording and apparent transparency of the space agency only served to throw further fuel on the fire of speculation that this was some sort of elaborate cover-up.

No doubt similar theorists will now infer that the comet was blown up outside the solar system and its hurtling path towards Earth deviated by some sort of explosion deep in its core affected by a motley crew of space drillers, most of whom tragically died during the mission.

NASA, however, is sticking to its guns.

"I cannot begin to guess why this little comet became such a big internet sensation," Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Programme Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said in the statement.

"The scientific reality is this modest-sized icy dirtball's influence upon our planet is so incredibly minuscule that my subcompact automobile exerts a greater gravitational influence on Earth than the comet ever would. That includes the date it came closest to Earth (Oct 16), when the comet's remnants got no closer than about 22 million miles [35.5 million km]," he added. ®

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