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Tue Sep 16 21:30:13 SAST 2014

Asteroid set to shave past Earth in February

Times LIVE | 29 January, 2013 10:31
Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass inside the geosynchronous satellite ring, located about 35,800 km above the equator. Its orbit about the sun can bring it no closer to the Earth's surface than 3.2 Earth radii on February 15, 2013. On this date, the asteroid will travel rapidly from the southern evening sky into the northern morning sky with its closest Earth approach occurring about 19:26 UTC when it will achieve a magnitude of less than seven, which is somewhat fainter than naked eye visibility.

On the 15th of February an asteroid, designated 2012 DA14, will pass just 27 680 kilometres above our planet's surface.


"This is a record-setting close approach," says Don Yeomans of NASA's Near Earth Object Program at JPL. "Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, we've never seen an object this big get so close to Earth."

The asteroid is about 50 metres wide and is probably made of stone rather than metal or ice according to Nasa.

There is no danger of collision, but it will be coming closer than the orbits of a lot of manmade satellites.

"2012 DA14 will definitely not hit Earth," emphasises Yeomans. "The orbit of the asteroid is known well enough to rule out an impact."

At the size it is, it probably wouldn't be catastrophic if it did "unless you happen to be underneath it" according to Nasa news.

Nasa's Goldstone radar in the Mojave Desert is scheduled to ping 2012 DA14 almost every day from Feb. 16th through 20th, and it is expected to brighten to the point of looking like an 8th degree star according to Nasa.

According to Yoemans, “The asteroid will be racing across the sky, moving almost a full degree (or twice the width of a full Moon) every minute. That’s going to be hard to track.”

You can read the full story at Nasa.

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Tue Sep 16 21:30:13 SAST 2014 ::