Asteroid To Skim By In Record Near Miss – Nasa

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The 130,000 tonne space rock will miss Earth so narrowly that it will come within the orbit of some communication satellites, travelling at a speed of five miles per second – eight times the speed of a bullet from a rifle.

Scientists at Nasa calculate that Asteroid 2012 DA14 will whistle past Earth on February 15 closer than the orbit of some weather and communications satellites, speeding by at a distance of 17,000 miles (27,400km).

That would be the planet’s closest shave with an identified flying object since records began.

Asteroids and meteorites that have come closer than that have ended up colliding with the planet but this one is not thought to be a danger to either us or satellites.

The best viewing location for the asteroid, which would be visible through binoculars or telescopes, will be in Indonesia. 

Australia, Asia and Eastern Europe will also offer viewing spots for the rock that was discovered in February 2012. 

“This asteroid’s orbit is so well known that we can say with confidence that even considering its orbital uncertainties… no Earth impact is possible,” said Donald Yeomans, the head of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

He said any damaging impact would be avoided as the rock’s path would put it in the “sweet spot”. 

“The object that … took out the dinosaurs was about 10 kilometers,” Yeomans added. 

If the asteroid were to strike the planet, the impact would be equivalent to a 2.4-megaton bomb which could flatten a vast area. 

“With an estimated size of the order of 50 meters, (2012 DA 14) is comparable in dimensions to the object that destroyed over 2,000 square kilometers of forest in Tunguska, Siberia, on 30th June 1908,” said Mark Bailey, the director of the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland. 

Based on NASA estimates, an asteroid like 2012 DA 14 moves close to the Earth every 40 years. Agencies

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