Earth's close encounter with Asteroid 2012 DA14: 5 things you need to know

A newly discovered asteroid 2012 DA14, which is about half the size of a football field will pass nearer to Earth than any other known object of its size on Friday, giving scientists a rare opportunity for close-up observations without launching a probe.

At its closest approach, which will occur at 1924 GMT  (12.55am IST), the asteroid will pass about 27,520 km above the planet traveling at 13 km per second, bringing it even closer to earth than the weather and TV satellites that ring the planet.

Here are five things you need to know about the asteroid:

First, what's the big deal about this one: Well, it's huge! It is approximately 45 meters in diameter and has an estimated mass of about 130,000 metric tons. This is the closest ever flyby for a predicted Earth approach for an object this large according to Nasa.


Image from NASA

Will it crash into Earth?: No. Nasa says the path of the Asteroid is well understood. It won't come closer than 17,150 miles (27,650 kilometres) above Earth's surface during its flyby today.

It will however come inside the belt of satellites in geostationary orbit, which is located 22,200 miles (35,800 kilometers) above Earth’s surface. The close-approach distance is only about one-tenth the distance between Earth and moon.

What time will it be closest to the Earth? Today 15 February. According to GMT, it will closest at approx 19:24 UTC or 00.54 IST. This time may change by a minute or two as the asteroid is tracked on its approach and predictions are refined says Nasa.

At the time of its closest approach, the asteroid will be over the eastern Indian Ocean at approx: Latitude: -6 deg South and Longitude: 97.5 deg East.

When will be the next closest flyby of this asteroid? : . The next notable close approach to Earth will be on February 15, 2046, when the asteroid will pass no closer than 620,000 miles (1,000,000 kilometres) from the centre-point of Earth.

How long will it be in the Earth/Moon system? It will be within the Earth/moon system for about 33 hours. The asteroid will exit the Earth/moon system on 16 February at about 1200 GMT or 5.30 pm IST.

The space camera,, will incorporate several live feeds, including views from the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, in a webcast beginning Friday.

Info courtesy: NASA

Published Date: Feb 15, 2013 06:50 pm | Updated Date: Feb 15, 2013 06:53 pm

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