An Asteroid, 2012 DA14 is on approach to Earth as we write this post and it’s expected to sweep across Earth on February 15 2013. A scary video has been recently released by the NASA which shows how close the gigantic asteroid will come into the Earth’s orbit this week. This 150ft-wide and 130 000 ton asteroids, called the 2012 DA14 will be so near to our planet that it is going to curve within the Earth’s communications and weather satellites’ orbit, also known as the geosynchronous satellite ring; located about 35,000 km about the equator.
NASA’s Guarantee About 2012 DA14
“Space rocks hit the Earth’s atmosphere on a daily basis. Basketball-size objects come in daily. Volkswagen-size objects come in every couple of weeks,” says Dr Yeomans, Manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object program.
NASA’s scientists guarantee that, on this coming Friday, the nearest point that this huge rock is going to rocket past Earth is approximately 17,000 miles. Luckily for us, in his statement, Donald Yeomans affirmed, “No Earth impact is possible.” However, Paul Chodas, planetary astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory points out, “That’s very unlikely, but we can’t rule it out.” Also, he adds “The orbit for 2012 DA14 is currently very Earth-like, which means it will be very close to Earth on a regular basis.”
And If 2012 DA14 Strikes Earth?
The possibility of the asteroid to strike us is remote, but even if it did, it would be equivalent to a “nuclear blast”. For instance, this is what happened in 1908, in Russia. A fireball was seen across the sky in daytime and this exploded in the atmosphere above Siberia’s Podkamennaya Tunguska River (now known as Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia), killing reindeers and flattening trees.
Scientists now believe that the Tunguska event was caused by a small meteor or comet, which didn’t hit Earth but blew out in the atmosphere, leading to what is known as an air burst. The Tunguska event is estimated at 3 to 20 megatons of TNT and if 2012 DA14 were to hit planet Earth, it would release energy equivalent to 2.4 megatons of TNT. This impact, indeed, could flatten and wipe out a city!
Will Asteroid 2012 DA14 Be Visible From Earth?
On 15th February, 2013, this asteroid will pass through swiftly from the southern evening sky into the north morning sky with its closest Earth approach occurring about 19.26 UTC.
Even though 2012 DA14 is coming remarkably close, it will appear as a point of light in the optical telescopes. Its brightness will be too pale to be seen with the naked eye but easily visible in a good set of binoculars or a small telescope. In Indonesia, the asteroid will be best viewed against the star background, as well as in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia. As for the US inhabitants, the brightness of the asteroid would have faded much by the time the Earth rotates enough for it to be seen.
This passage of 2012 DA14 by the Earth is a record close approach for an object of this size. A few other known asteroids have flown by the Earth even closer, but those asteroids were smaller.
Bottom line: 2012 DA14 is going to virtually be the center of attention of everyone on Earth on 15th February, 2013.