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

Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurd President Urges World Community to Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid