Nasa announces forthcoming asteroid 'near miss

Discussion in 'General Multimedia' started by arya, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. arya

    arya Senior Member Senior Member

    Sep 14, 2009
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    Nasa said a 45-metre wide asteroid will pass 17,200 miles from the surface of the Earth next week, the closest fly-by for an object of that size the space agency has ever recorded.

    The asteroid, known as 2012 DA14, is travelling eight times faster than a rifle bullet, and will move well inside the ring of communications and weather satellites surrounding the planet.
    The asteroid will be closest to Earth at 2.24pm EST on Feb 15. It will not be visible with the naked eye, but will be visible in dark skies with binoculars or a small telescope in eastern Europe, Asia and Australia. The best viewing spot will be Indonesia.
    Nasa said it had a very accurate prediction of the object's path and was "certain" it would not hit the Earth or any satellites.
    Dr Don Yeomans, a specialist for near-Earth objects at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said: "It's roughly half the size of a football field. It's orbit is very well known.
    "It will pass 5,000 miles inside the ring of satellites. There's no chance of a collision."Nasa has been passing details to satellite operators, but Dr Yeomans said: "It appears to be passing right in the sweet spot between the GPS satellites and the communications and weather satellites, so it's extremely unlikely any of those satellites will be affected. I don't anticipate any problems."
    2012 DA14, which orbits the Earth about once a year, was discovered by astronomers in Spain in February last year. Next week will be its closest ever approach. It is travelling at 17,400mph.
    Nasa said an actual collision between Earth and an object the size of 2012 DA14 is estimated to to occur once every 1,200 years.
    The last comparable sized object to hit Earth was the 1908 Tunguska event in Russia, which knocked down trees over an area of 800 square miles.

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