Near impact: asteroid to narrowly miss Earth

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WASHINGTON – Hold on to your hats: an asteroid will zoom within spitting distance of Earth next week, in what NASA said Thursday is the closest flyby ever predicted for an object this large.

The 2012 DA 14, discovered by chance by astronomers after passing nearby last February, will be just around 17,200 miles (27,700 kilometers) above Earth’s surface when it speeds by, the US Space Agency said.

That’s outside the Earth’s atmosphere, but closer than the orbit of most weather and communications satellites.

However, despite the close shave, NASA said there was nothing to fear.

“This asteroid’s orbit is so well known that we can say with confidence that even considering it’s orbital uncertainties, it can pass no closer than 17,100 miles from the Earth’s surface. So no Earth impact is possible,” said Donald Yeomans of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“At the same time, it will pass 5,000 miles inside the ring” of satellites, Yeomans told reporters, saying the asteroid’s path puts it right in the “sweet spot” to avoid having any damaging impact.

The asteroid is predicted to come closest to Earth on February 15, at around 1924 GMT, plus or minus a minute or two, and will pass over the Indian Ocean off Sumatra.

It will be visible, with a little help from a telescope, in eastern Europe, Australia and Asia, astronomers said.

“What you would see through a small telescope would be something like a star, a small point of light… that moved against a background of stars,” said Tim Spahr, of the Harvard-Smithsonian’s Minor Planet Center.

The asteroid measures about 150 feet (45 meters) in diameter. That makes it relatively small by celestial standards.

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

Nevertheless, if it were to hit the Earth, the impact would be roughly equivalent to a 2.4 megaton bomb — enough to flatten a large area but not globally catastrophic, he explained.

NASA estimates an smallish asteroid like 2012 DA 14 flies close to the Earth every 40 years, on average, but only hits the Earth once every 1,200 years.

Statistically-speaking, that means we’re probably safe for quite a while, since a similar asteroid hit just over 100 years ago.

“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,” Mark Bailey, director of the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland, told AFP.

Astronomers have detected some 9,500 celestial bodies of various sizes that pass near Earth, but they estimate that’s only a tenth of what’s out there.

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  • vince_bugaboo

    Tumama sana sa building lang ng legislative house, there and there alone at walang tamaang iba pati na mga magbabalot at sigarilyo vendors, ligtas. Ang tamaan lang sana ay ang mga  mandurugas doon, lalo lalo na ang mga senadors. yehey!

    • ewankosayo

       “Nevertheless, if it were to hit the Earth, the impact would be roughly
      equivalent to a 2.4 megaton bomb — enough to flatten a large area but
      not globally catastrophic, he explained.”
       
      mawawala metro manila nyan…di lang yang mga kankonggresman at senatong…

  • doublecross

    sana tumama na lang   sa UNA party list…..hehehehe.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZVS4MKYAHNFS6TCFBFGRZNIIGQ Nueva

    sna tumama na at mawala lahat ng mandurugas sa govt sama na ang china lol

  • PHtaxpayer

    If this hit anywhere in the Pacific, a giant tsunami would wipe out every coastal community from the US, PH, Japan, etc.

    • vendetta07

      not really. There was a tsunami that hit Japan but didnt hit other countries

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/3B3RADHU52ZSFRXC2BNBRABM4Q NoOneIsPerfect

        earthquake yung tumama sa japan. mas malakas ang impact at yanig nung sa asteroid syempre.. 

  • Le Commentor

    Sana tumama sa ilong ni Gwen Garcia?

  • jolly_baby

    may tama ka… 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003511285325 Arrez Odaloser

    sa CHINA sna tumama yan

  • http://www.facebook.com/fongishere Gerald Matthew Fuentes Giron

    Its that true ? >.<

  • Fely Sulit

    Signs of end time…….

  • well well Navarro

    ano may barrier tau d tau tatamaan ng Impact ZZZ isip isip din!!! panay china china nakkaumay n prob nyan ng goverment kung tutuusin d ntn dpt pnu prob nyan zzzzzzzz get a life pls!!! =p

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