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Asteroid to pass within 17.2k miles above Earth
Wednesday, 06 February 2013

Asteroid 2012 DA14, which about half the size of a football field, is flying toward Earth. But NASA scientists say that it will certainly miss our planet, though it will be closer than most GPS satellites.

 

A record-setting asteroid is expected to hurtle past Earth just after Valentine's Day. But fear not, the planet is safe.

Earth's gravitational pull will cause Asteroid 2012 DA14 to accelerate and speed by in a curved path within 17, 200 miles of earth's surface Feb. 15 - closer to the planet than most GPS and television satellites.

 

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

But NASA scientists are certain that it will not collide with our planet.

"Its orbit is very well-known," said Yeomans. "We know exactly where it's going to go, and it cannot hit the Earth."

The asteroid, which is roughly half the size of a football field (45-50 meters) will not be visible to the naked eye but people in Australia, Asia and Eastern Europe will likely be able to observe it with binoculars or telescopes.

 

An astronomer in southern Spain discovered the asteroid close to a year ago - something nobody would have likely done 20 years ago, according to Yeomans.

NASA scientists look forward to analyzing the asteroid up close. Not just for safety purposes but for general research.

"These objects are important for science. They're important for our future resources," said Yeomans.

Millions of asteroids - from the size of a beach balls to a gigantic mountains - populate our Solar System, said NASA.

An object of this size approached Earth once every 40 years but only ever collides with it every 1,200 years, reported CNN.

A similar asteroid collided with Earth in Tunguska, Russia in 1908, decimating trees in an area of over 820 miles.

On the other hand, Asteroid 2012 DA14 will simply give stargazers a fascinating view and scientists a bit more information to analyze, NASA emphasized.

 

 


  

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