An asteroid known as asteroid 2012 DA14 about 150 feet in diameter is about half the size of a football field and will give Earth the ultimate close shave this month, passing closer than many satellites when it whizzes by at about 17,200 miles from the Earth, but it won't hit the planet, NASA scientists say. The asteroid will approach much closer to Earth than the moon, and well inside the paths of navigation and communications satellites. NASA scientists will closely watch this asteroid from the Goldstone radar in California's Mojave Desert. NASA scientists plan to follow the asteroid from February 16 to February 20, 2013.
"This is a record-setting close approach," Don Yeomans, the head of NASA's asteroid-tracking program, said in a statement in the February 4, 2013 Space.com news article, "Asteroid to Give Earth Record-Setting Close Shave on Feb. 15." This is the first asteroid recorded coming this close to earth. Surveys on how far out in space asteroids will pass the Earth began being recorded in the 1990s. See the Space.com site for more information.
Amateur team of watchers spotted the asteroid
In 2012, an amateur team of watchers at the La Sagra Sky Survey observatory in Spain spotted Asteroid 2012 DA14. Scientists say that the asteroid's approach brings it closer to Earth at only 17,200 miles above us than the geosynchronous satellites orbiting 22,245 miles over the Earth, 2012. But researchers say that the asteroid poses no threat of a collision with the planet and only a remote chance of the asteroid crashing into any of the satellites.
See Don Yeomans Explain Asteroid 2012 DA14 (Video). The big issue is even though the chances are small it asteroid will shove a satellite out of its orbit, what type of preparation is being made if the asteroid causes the satellite to slam into the Earth, but not the bigger asteroid? Check out the site, JPL Near-Earth Object Program - NASA.
You can also check out the Near-Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Earth does get asteroids zipping by about every 40 years. And most of the asteroids are typical, such as the 2012 DA14 asteroid, measuring 150 feet (45 meters) across. The only issue is that an asteroid strikes the Earth about every 1,200 years.
NASA to hold a media conference on February 7, 2013 to discuss the new asteroid
NASA will hold a media teleconference at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST), on Thursday, Feb. 7, to discuss an asteroid, 150 feet (45 meters) in diameter, that will pass close, but safely, by Earth on Feb. 15. The flyby creates a unique opportunity for researchers to observe and learn more about asteroids.
The teleconference participants are: --Lindley Johnson, program executive, Near-Earth Object (NEO) Observations Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington
--Timothy Spahr, director, Minor Planet Center, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Donald Yeomans, manager, NEO Office, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, Amy Mainzer, principal investigator, NEOWISE observatory, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Edward Beshore, deputy principal investigator, Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer Asteroid Sample Return Mission, University of Arizona, Tucson.
Will you be listening to the teleconference live online?
Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at the US stream site. Related images will be available at the start of the teleconference at this NASA site. For detailed information concerning the Earth flyby of 2012 DA14, visit this NASA asteroid fly by site.
A Ustream feed of the flyby from a telescope at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will be broadcast from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. PST (9 p.m. to midnight EST) on Feb. 15. To view the feed and ask researchers questions via Twitter about the flyby, visit the Ustream NASA site.
When an asteroid hit the Earth 1,200 years ago
When it did that long ago, there were no huge cities where it landed at that time or were there big cities 1,200 years before that time either. Nowadays, the impact of the type of asteroid that hits every 1,200 years would be very destructive to a city. The 1908 asteroid in Siberia exploded in the air and did not create a crater by hitting the ground as a rock. But it destroyed a large area's trees, plants, and wildlife in that relatively sparsely inhabited area.
The 1908 Tunguska event in Siberia where an asteroid may have exploded in the air
If you look at the asteroid that hit Siberia in 1908, it knocked out a wide swath of trees, but in an area that was not inhabited by very many people. The 1908 Siberian event featured an asteroid, it is theorized, about the same size as the current Asteroid 2012 DA14. In the case of Siberia in 1908, the asteroid exploded in the atmosphere above Siberia in 1908 instead of falling to Earth and creating a crater. But the explosion was violent and destroyed trees and wildlife for hundreds of square miles.
The 1908 explosion is called the "Tunguska Event," according to NASA. Another asteroid made of iron and the same size as the current one did slam into Arizona 50,000 years ago when it is assumed there were no people at that spot. The event back then created the Meteor Crater in Arizona.
NASA will be monitoring the latest asteroid as it zooms past the earth next week
NASA scientists will be watching the current asteroid 2012 DA14 on February 15, 2013 as it zooms by Earth, NASA scientists will be tracking the space rock closely. The asteroid will be watched closely by NASA from the Goldstone radar in California's Mojave Desert. NASA scientists plan to follow the asteroid from February 16 to February 20, 2013.
The scientists also will be building a 3-dimenensional map of asteroid 2012 DA14. Researchers also will refine estimates on the asteroid's shape, spin and reflectivity, according to NASA. The asteroid will be tracked. The question is whether it's made mostly of rock or the more destructive iron?