News / Science & Technology

Asteroid Flies Safely Past Earth; Meteor Strikes

Asteroid 2012 DA14 from Gingin Observatory in Asutralia, Feb 15, 2013.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 from Gingin Observatory in Asutralia, Feb 15, 2013.
Suzanne Presto
An asteroid about 45 meters in diameter flew very near, but safely past, our planet Friday, while a much smaller meteor caused panic and chaos in Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 made its highly anticipated, record-breaking close approach to Earth and then whizzed away, with only those who closely watch the skies or the news aware that that it had come and gone. But that wasn't the case earlier in the day, when an unexpected meteor blazed across the sky and exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, inflicting injuries and damage as chunks hit the Earth.

Paul Chodas, a research scientist in the Near Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, emphasized that the two cosmic events are unrelated.

"They are not in the same trajectory or the same orbit," Chodas said during the U.S. space agency's televised coverage of Asteroid 2012 DA14's flyby.  "It's simply a coincidence that they happened to hit and come near the Earth the same day."

Russian meteor

NASA says preliminary research indicates the Russian meteor entered the atmosphere at 18 kilometers per second, and released hundreds of kilotons of energy when it became superheated and exploded. Chodas said, at this point, researchers believe the meteor was roughly 15 meters across - about one-third the size of Asteroid 2012 DA14.     

"You can see what sort of destruction and shockwave that a smaller asteroid can produce," Chodas said. "It's like Mother Nature is showing us what a small one, a tiny one really, can do, and DA14 is really only a small asteroid on that scale."

Lance Benner, a radar astronomer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is among the scientists who will continue to track 2012 DA14 even as it zooms away after coming within 28,000 kilometers of our planet's surface.   

Tracking asteroids

Scientists expect to learn more about its physical characteristics and the way Earth's gravity alters the asteroid's orbit.
     
"We'll also be measuring its distance and velocity on multiple occasions over the course of the next several days in an attempt to improve our understanding of its orbit and enable us to compute its motion much farther into the future than we could otherwise," said Benner.  

The U.S. space agency says, on average, an asteroid the size of 2012 DA14 gets close every 40 years and hits every 1,200 years.  

NASA's Chodas says there is "a very tiny possibility" that 2012 DA14 could hit our planet in 2080, but he expects further study of its orbit will rule out that possibility.   

Watch the NASA livestream:


Live video from your iPhone using Ustream

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid