Space enthusiast and scientist alike have been watching asteroid 2012 DA14 as it approaches in its closest encounter of Earth’s visible space on February 15, 2013, over the Indian Ocean near Sumatra. In space this tiny white speck in an amateur’s telescope field of view racing toward Earth may seem threatening but NASA says it is no threat to hit Earth.
Eventually scientist wonder if the brightly lit object moving rapidly across the evening sky will become a real threat to mankind as it returns on its next orbit. NASA reported the images taken of asteroid 2012 DA14 as a “close – but safe encounter -with Earth.” Scientist at NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar database in the Mojave Desert in California will try to determine “its rough shape, spin rate and composition.”
NASA says it will take radar images of the asteroid to determine its precise size and shape on 16, 18, 19 and 20 of February. Even then NASA’s work isn’t finished as the Near Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program will continue to follow the asteroid to predict its future orbit.
“The flyby of 2012 DA14 (150 feet in diameter) is the closest-ever predicted approach to Earth for an object this large,” says NASA.
The asteroid will pass very close to earth in comparison to the moon and earth distance. The distance from Earth will be far above our lowest Earth-orbiting satellites, including the International Space Station, and these satellites are not in the direct path of 2012 DA14. It is, however; between those satellites mentioned and the next belt of satellites called the GOES satellites in geostationary orbit.
NASA says there is no threat of the asteroid hitting the Earth or statellites are expected. The meteor that exploded over Russia sending debris flying everywhere and hurting about 1,000 people was going in the opposite direction than the approaching asteroid and was a fluke and mere coincidence.
NASA reports, “Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about 150 feet (45 meters) in diameter. It is expected to fly about 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) above Earth’s surface at the time of closest approach, which is about 11:25 a.m. PST (2:25 p.m. EST) on Feb. 15. This distance is well away from Earth and the swarm of low Earth-orbiting satellites, including the International Space Station, but it is inside the belt of satellites in geostationary orbit (about 22,200 miles, or 35,800 kilometers, above Earth’s surface.) The flyby of 2012 DA14 is the closest-ever predicted approach to Earth for an object this large.”
NASA goes on say explaining, “NASA Near Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using ground- and space-based telescopes. The network of projects supported by this program, commonly called “Spaceguard,” discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them and plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.”
Near-Earth Object Program Office (NEOO) predicts whether any will become an impact hazard to the Earth, or any other planet in the solar system. NEOO manages the technical and scientific activities perform more precise orbit determination on space objects.