2012 DA14 a week 17200 miles

Just so you all have time to prepare, just in case things are not exactly as precise as expected…

Next week, on 15 Feb 2013, a large space rock goes whizzing by inside the orbit of a lot of stuff in space. (One hopes none gets in the way…)

The object is “2012 DA14” and it passes at about 17,200 miles up. Inside the orbit of communications satellites.


Andrew Fazekas

for National Geographic News

Published February 7, 2013

Talk about too close for comfort. In a rare cosmic encounter, an asteroid will barnstorm Earth next week, missing our planet by a mere 17,200 miles (27,700 kilometers).

Designated 2012 DA14, the space rock is approximately 150 feet (45 meters) across, and astronomers are certain it will zip harmlessly past our planet on February 15—but not before making history. It will pass within the orbits of many communications satellites, making it the closest flyby on record. (Read about one of the largest asteroids to fly by Earth.)

“This is indeed a remarkably close approach for an asteroid this size,” said Paul Chodas, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Near Earth Object (NEO) program office in Pasadena, California.

“We estimate that an asteroid of this size passes this close to the Earth only once every few decades.”

The giant rock—half a football field wide—was first spotted by observers at the La Sagra Observatory in southern Spain a year ago, soon after it had just finished making a much more distant pass of the Earth at 2.6 million miles (4.3 million kilometers) away.

This time around however, on February15 at 2:24 pm EST, the asteroid will be passing uncomfortably close

At least it is waiting until Valentine’s Day is over… But “no worries”. It wouldn’t do all that much if it did hit. Just a small nuke worth…

Packing a Punch

Experts say an impact from an object this size would have the explosive power of a few megatons of TNT, causing localized destruction—similar to what occurred in Siberia in 1908.

In what’s known as the “Tunguska event,” an asteroid is thought to have created an airburst explosion which flattened about 750 square miles (1,200 square kilometers) of a remote forested region in what is now northern Russia (map).

And they only happen every few hundred to a thousand years… (depending on size). So as long as one doesn’t go off over a nuclear power, everything ought to be just fine…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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14 Responses to 2012 DA14 a week 17200 miles

  1. Petrossa says:

    Well, with only 30% landmass odds are it’d land in the sea killing a lot whales and islanders.

  2. hillrj says:

    “was first spotted by observers at the La Sagra Observatory in southern Spain a year ago”
    So, we might get about a year’s warning of the next one this size.
    And we have no defence at this time.
    What is your priority?
    CO2 or asteroids?
    NASA seems to prioritise CO2
    Wouldn they be better defending against certain damage from asteroids?

  3. mikeg says:

    Petrossa, not so sure about that. (estimated)130,000 metric tons @ 7.8 km/sec is a heck of a lot of kinetic energy. I wouldn’t like to be on a coastline a couple of thousand miles away when that resulting tsunami hit.

  4. Bloke down the pub says:

    Watched Sky at Night last night (it feels odd now without Sir Patrick). For observers in the UK, 2012 DA14 should be visible on the evening of the 15th between 21.30 and 22.00, crossing the ‘handle’ of the Plough. Having said that, in the UK the sky will probably be cloudy as it usually is whenever there’s anything you really want to see.

  5. adolfogiurfa says:

    More dangerous if it is non-polar :-)

  6. philjourdan says:

    The article does (in an indirect way) bring up an important point. While it may be “closest flyby on record”, it clearly is neither unprecedented as they also state “only once every few decades.”, nor uncommon. Which means it happens 2-3 times in the average lifespan of a human. But what the “low information” people read is merely “record!”, so it must be unprecedented!

    And that is how you get Climate Alarmism. It is not what is said, but more how it is said.

    I am glad it is at 17,200 miles and not 30,000 feet! I will be flying to California that day.

  7. Jeff Alberts says:

    This object is roughly the same size as the object which created Barringer Crater near Winslow Arizona (AKA the incorrectly named “meteor” crater).

    From Wiki:

    The object that excavated the crater was a nickel–iron meteorite about 50 meters (54 yards) across, which struck the plain at a speed of several kilometers per second. Impact energy has been estimated at about 10 megatons.

  8. adolfogiurfa says:

    Things, when moving in a field, get charged, as Temple 1 comet proved not long ago:

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    The other thing not said is that it is a non-linear frequency vs size curve, so we ought to get some in the kilo-ton range almost constantly flying by, with impacts more often.

    Some “long time ago” I read an article that asserted the first “nuclear test ban observing satellites” were falsing once or twice a year. Turned out it was meteors in the kiloton range exploding at altitude and over the oceans… So they changed to looking not just for a bright flash, but the unique “double flash” of a nuke. Kind of gives you an idea how empty the world really is, since most of these were not observed by folks on the surface (or the folks were so remote they had nobody to tell…). Does explain some of those stories of a ‘flash in the sky’ though…

    The ones that worry me are the ones in between those two sizes. In the 20 kT to 1 mT range. Big enough to get to the ground, and much more often than “one every 1,000 years”. We ought to be getting one every couple of hundred years that is big enough to wipe out a modest city. (Probably what wiped out Sodom & Gomorrah, BTW; we have contemporaneous records of observed ‘stuff’ in the sky that matches the date of the burned cities found on the ground…)

    So given that nobody much was paying attention 400 years ago ( 1600s it would have been an ‘act of God’, if anyone even noticed a village in Congo get splatted) we have no reason to expect a historical record. So “sometime soon” we ought to have a new crater somewhere or a very large “surprise” tsunami. ( Where “soon” is measured in decades to low centuries). Now while the odds are very much against it: we are increasingly putting up large cities all over. Just a matter of time until one of them goes POOF! We really need a space tug and laser canon force on orbit…

  10. John Robertson says:

    Will it be visible from earth?
    Can we cause panic by claiming that co2 driven heating has caused the atmosphere to expand out enough to “grab” this rock?
    I did once hope that by now 2013, we would not be still sitting at the bottom of the gravity well, looking up waiting for the astroid.
    E.M am trying out paypal again, please check .

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    @John Robertson:

    From one side (up thread is a claim that the UK will be in position) and depending on TOD and cloud cover… Observatories ought to get pictures.

    Hey, folks seem willing to buy any old crap story, logic need not apply, so “go for it”… ;-)

    Yes, I’d expected that by now we’d have space tugs on orbit, self attaching robot motors, and large lasers or mass drivers to break up the modest sized ones into gravel that has no risk. Instead we have the Magic Gas Fantasy…

    Thanks! FWIW, PayPal reports it just accepted the donation this time. I didn’t do anything. No, no idea why. Maybe it thought you were in the US this time… At any rate, Thanks a bunch!

  12. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. You got it right!…that reentry “heating” of spaceships explained by “friction”. If it can obtained a same chemical compound of two different “bulk densities” this means that each of them has a different “static charge” surrounding the particles. Our Earth has also a field around….

  13. Steve C says:

    I do hope the calculations weren’t done by a climate “scientist”, or we’re dooomed.

  14. Wyguy says:

    This is from News Busters. CNN anchor Deb Feyerick asked Saturday afternoon if an approaching asteroid, which will pass by Earth on February 15, “is an example of, perhaps, global warming?”

    Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brent-baker/2013/02/09/parody-or-does-she-believe-it-cnn-anchor-blames-asteroid-global-warming#ixzz2KSyEfLVu

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