An asteroid half the size of a football field will make a close approach to Earth, but poses no threat of smacking into the planet, NASA officials said Thursday.
Small near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass very close to Earth on February 15, so close that it will pass inside the ring of geosynchronous weather and communications satellites. Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be 5,000 miles closer to Earth than those satellites during the flyby.
What is asteroid 2012 DA14?
2012 DA14 is a near-Earth asteroid with an estimated diameter of about 148 ft and an estimated mass of about 130,000 metric tons. It was discovered on February 23, 2012, by the OAM Observatory, La Sagra in Spain seven days after passing 1,620,000 miles from Earth on February 16. NASA calculations show that on February 15, 2013, the distance between the asteroid and Earth will be about 17,200 miles.
The 2013 passage of 2012 DA14 by Earth is a record close approach for a known object of this size.
Although the close proximity to a giant asteroid may seem scary, NASA says not to worry. There’s no chance of an impact. At its closest, asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass about 17,000 miles above Earth.
However, a million other potentially dangerous and known rocks are out there, and one of them could be on a collision course with Earth. Critics say NASA and other space agencies are not doing enough to scan for these threats.
"The fact is, we don't have collisions very often, even among the satellites that are there all the time," Ailor said. "Space is very active, but there's a lot of it above us."