PASADENA, Ca. (NASA JPL) – Asteroid 2012 DA14 is an object about half the size of a football field in diameter. It will pass very close to the Earth on February 15, 2013, coming from the south to the north, it actually gets to within 17,200 miles of the Earth’s surface. It will pass interior to the geosynchronous satellites and the GPS satellites, but there’s really no chance of the asteroid hitting the Earth, and very little chance it will hit a satellite.
Although this object gets very close to the Earth on February 15, it’s fairly small as asteroids go, and it won’t be observable with the naked eye. But if you happen to be located in Eastern Europe, Asia or Australia and you know where to look, and you have a pair of binoculars, it will indeed be visible.
The asteroid was discovered by a group of Spanish astronomers at La Sagra Observatory in southern Spain.
An object the size of DA14 impacted the Earth June 30, 1908 in Tunguska, Russia. As it entered Earth’s atmosphere, it exploded (never hitting ground), leveling trees for miles!
But Don Yeomans, Manager of NASA’s Near Earth Objects Office says, “The close approach of this object 2012 DA14 is nothing to worry about. Its orbit is very well known, we know exactly where it’s going, and it cannot hit the Earth.”
Yeomans says NASA is on the lookout, though, for objects like DA14. “Twenty years ago, we probably wouldn’t have found this object. But NASA is observing the skies nightly, and picking up these objects. We track them for a hundred years into the future and see if any of them make any interestingly closer approaches, not only because of the threat issue, but because these objects are important for science, future resources, as well as threats”
The flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 on Feb. 15, 2013, will be the closest known approach to Earth for an object its size. NASA Television will provide commentary starting at 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST) on Friday, Feb. 15, during the close, but safe, flyby of a small near-Earth asteroid named “2012 DA14.” The commentary will be available via NASA TV and streamed live online at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory