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.”)

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