Feb 102013

On Friday (15th February) asteroid 2012 DA14 will make the closest pass to the planet since scientists began monitoring asteroids more than 15 years ago. The asteroid, which is about the size of an Olympic swimming pool, will pass about 27,520 kilometres (17,100 miles) from Earth. The Moon is about 14 times further away than the asteroid at its closest approach.


NASA image of asteroid 2012 DA14 (Photo credit: Wiki

Earth orbiting satellites generally fly about 800 kilometres (497 miles) higher, so the asteroid will pass within the orbit of these satellites. There is a very real possibility that the asteroid could collide with a satellite, or any other piece of space junk floating around up there.

Despite the closeness to the Earth, NASA say that enough is known of the asteroid’s course to predict that there is ‘no chance’ of a collision with the planet.

At the time of closest approach, which is expected to be around 19:24, give or take a few minutes, the asteroid will be over the eastern Indian Ocean, off Sumatra. The asteroid’s orbit around the sun is roughly similar to that of Earth, and it makes relatively close approaches to our planet’s orbit twice per orbit. The 2013 approach is the closest for many decades, but the asteroid’s next notable approach, on February 16th 2046, will take the lump of rock to no closer than 1,000,000 kilometres (620,000 miles).

Asteroid 2012 DA 14 is traveling at about 17,450 miles per hour (28,100 kilometers per hour), or 4.8 miles per second (7.82 kilometers per second) relative to Earth and will be visible with good binoculars, or a telescope. During the closest approach, and dependant on local weather, the asteroid will be visible from parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. The asteroid will appear to be moving relatively quickly as it crosses the sky from the south to the north.

Source: Space Daily


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