Near-Earth Asteroid 2012 DA14 extremely close approach in February 2013

Small asteroid 2012 DA14 will make an extremely close approach  on February 15, 2013. It will pass by Earth at distance of about 27,000 km (17,000 miles/no closer than 0.000181 AU) from the center of the Earth; within about 3.5 Earth radii of the Earth’s surface.

This near-Earth asteroid was discovered on February 22, 2012 by LaSagra Observatory in the mountains of Andalusia in southern Spain. Asteroid 2012 DA14 is thought to be about 45 meters in diameter and his estimated mass about 130,000 metric tons.

The Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass below distance where many commercial satellites are flying. It will pass inside the geosynchronous satellite ring, located about 35,800 km above the equator. The nominal pass will be 0.00023 AU (34,000 km; 21,000 miles) from the center-point of the Earth.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass by Earth at distance of about 27,000 km (17,000 mile) from the center of the Earth. Just for comparison – 400-meters wide asteroid YU 55  passed 320,000 kilometers (200,000 miles) from Earth on November 8, 2011. Even closer flyby of asteroid 2011 MD last June was closer than DA14 will at a distance of only 12,070 km (7,500 miles).

For now, the orbit of 2012 DA14 is such that it will not crash into Earth for the foreseeable future. It rates 0 (No Hazard) on the Torino scale.

With such a close approach to Earth, our planet’s gravity will change its future path and rise a chance of future impact.   There is an estimated cumulative 0.033% risk (1 in 3,030) of 2012 DA14 impacting Earth sometime between 2026 and 2069.

Some scientist believe that similar-in-size object hit Tunguska in 1918. If it were to strike the Earth, it is estimated that it would produce the equivalent of 2.4 megatons of TNT. The Tunguska event has been estimated at 3−20 megatons.


Private venture wants to keep its wary eye out for asteroid

So, the world did not end Friday because of an asteroid blast or any of the other calamities imagined to be predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar.But some say a serious asteroid strike is just a matter of time, and we should be ready.

For evidence of what might come, see the 1908 “Tunguska event” in Siberia, said Ed Lu, a former shuttle and International Space Station astronaut who heads the nonprofit B612 Foundation (the name references the asteroid home from “The Little Prince.”)

more : Here




A Solar Storm is Coming

The most intense solar maximum in fifty years is coming. The prediction comes from a team led by Mausumi Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). "The next sunspot cycle will be 30% to 50% stronger than the previous one," she says. If correct, the years ahead could produce a burst of solar activity second only to the historic Solar Max of 1958.

The sun emitted its first X-class flare in more than four years on February 14 at 8:56 p.m. EST.
Active region 1158 let loose with an X2.2 flare late on February 15, the largest flare since Dec. 2006
That was a solar maximum. The Space Age was just beginning: Sputnik was launched in Oct. 1957 and Explorer 1 (the first US satellite) in Jan. 1958. In 1958 you couldn't tell that a solar storm was underway by looking at the bars on your cell phone; cell phones didn't exist. Even so, people knew something big was happening when Northern Lights were sighted three times in Mexico. A similar maximum now would be noticed by its effect on cell phones, GPS, weather satellites and many other modern technologies.
But today a similar solar maximum would cause major problems in our technological addicted societies


Curiosity "Mars-shaking" News?

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity dug up five scoops of sand from a patch nicknamed "Rocknest." A suite of instruments called SAM analyzed Martian soil samples, but the findings have not yet been released.

Scientists working on NASA's six-wheeled rover on Mars have a problem. But it's a good problem.

They have some exciting new results from one of the rover's instruments. On the one hand, they'd like to tell everybody what they found, but on the other, they have to wait because they want to make sure their results are not just some fluke or error in their instrument.

It's a bind scientists frequently find themselves in, because by their nature, scientists like to share their results. At the same time, they're cautious because no one likes to make a big announcement and then have to say "never mind."
The exciting results are coming from an instrument in the rover called SAM.

"We're getting data from SAM as we sit here and speak, and the data looks really interesting," John Grotzinger, the principal investigator for the rover mission, says during my visit last week to his office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. That's where data from SAM first arrive on Earth. "The science team is busily chewing away on it as it comes down," says Grotzinger.

More here