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.
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…