Asteroid To Make Close Fly-By Of Earth


PASADENA, Calif. (UPI) — A small asteroid approaching Earth will pass by so near it will come closer than the orbits of many weather and communications satellites, NASA says.

Although the near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass very close to Earth Feb. 15, observations obtained of its path show there is no chance it might be on a collision course, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported.

The asteroid’s closest approach will put it 17,200 miles above the Earth’s surface, closer than some distant geosynchronous satellites but still be well above the vast majority of satellites, including the International Space Station, JPL said.

Astronomers say that based on its brightness the asteroid, only discovered in February 2012, is about 150 feet in diameter.

At the time of its discovery it had just made a fairly distant passage by Earth, at about seven times the distance of the moon, they said.

With an orbital period around the sun of about 368 days, which is very similar to Earth’s, 2012 DA14 has made a series of annual close approaches.

The Feb. 15 flyby will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close, JPL said.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

Join the Discussion

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.