News / USA

    NASA: Asteroid to Pass Very Near Earth

    Suzanne Presto
    Astronomers around the world are preparing for a record-breaking asteroid flyby February 15.  

    Measuring 45 meters in diameter and weighing an estimated 130,000 metric tons, Asteroid 2012 DA14 is considered small by scientists who track the solar system's rocky debris, but it will zip past our planet so closely that it will be even nearer to us than our orbiting weather and communications satellites.

    It is the closest-ever-predicted approach for an object this size. Experts emphasize there is no reason for concern.  

    "There's no danger to the planet at all," Lindley Johnson of NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program in Washington told VOA. "We know the orbit quite well now."

    Close flyby

    Johnson said Asteroid 2012 DA14 will come as close as 27,700 kilometers - about one-tenth the distance between the Earth and the Moon.   

    "Close flybys of asteroids happen quite frequently," explained Johnson, who said more than 20 asteroids have come between the Earth and the Moon in the past year. "But they're usually very small-sized objects - maybe only a few meters in size."  

    The 45-meter asteroid will speed past us at about 7.8 kilometers per second, nearly 10 times faster than a speeding bullet.

    Spotting the asteroid

    It will be closest to Earth on February 15 at approximately 19:24 UTC. NASA says at that time, the asteroid will be visible in parts of Eastern Europe, North Africa, Asia and Australia. Skywatchers will need binoculars or a telescope to glimpse the faint, quickly moving point of light.    

    Astronomers in Spain first observed 2012 DA14 last February. Johnson said it is not surprising that the asteroid was not detected until recently.

    "The orbit last year brought it close enough so that it would be within the detection limits of the observatories that we have doing this survey," Johnson explained.  

    Asteroid encounters

    NASA estimates that about 100,000 objects this size are in Earth's vicinity. On average, one gets close every 40 years and hits every 1,200 years.  

    In 1908, a slightly smaller asteroid exploded over Tunguska, Siberia, leveling trees over 2,000 square kilometers.

    Learning opportunities

    The flyby is a remarkable opportunity for scientists.

    "It provides us the next best thing to doing a spacecraft flyby of an asteroid," said NASA's Johnson. "It's kind of nice that nature gives us these natural opportunities to examine these objects and learn all we can about them."

    NASA has plans to launch a spacecraft in 2016 to study another asteroid and retrieve a sample for study here on Earth.

    As for Asteroid 2012 DA14, NASA says that its next notable close approach to our planet will be in 2046.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ali from: Tehran
    February 11, 2013 2:46 PM
    If you want to know more about this object, just please contact with Dr. Ahmadi Nejad. He knows every thing about it. He is a professor, engineer, nurse, artist, footballer, architect, philosophic, clergy, horse rider, poet, singer, vocalist, forecaster ,etc. Mr. Albert Einstein was his student. I saw their photos on a wall in my city. They were like father and son.

    by: Kunle Olawole from: ILORIN, Nigeria
    February 11, 2013 4:03 AM
    How many years does it take this God's weapon of mass destruction to make a round? And what would be its proximity to our planet at the next turn?

    by: hamsphere from: texas
    February 09, 2013 9:28 PM
    seems like our friends up in sky have been doing a lot fly bys lately wonder if the big one hits us will the goverments tell us or tell a big lie I would want to know so I can go out with smile on my face ,our name is on one someday cause it happen before why not now ?

    by: Tim from: Houston texas
    February 09, 2013 5:08 PM
    Since it is passing so close to the earth and scheduled to return again in 2046,why dont we place a nuclear bomb on the asteroid and blow it to smaller pieces that the earths atmosphere can burn.

    by: big daddy from: Ga
    February 08, 2013 10:29 PM
    well if it hits, I hope it hits DC, so we can start over.
    In Response

    by: Barrie from: Calgary
    February 09, 2013 5:21 PM
    This asteroid is larger than the one in Siberia, which destroyed 2000 Km, or 1200 miles. Estimating a 750 mile radius from Chesapeake Bay, I don't hold out much hope for Georgia, or for that matter, a chunk of New England (including NYC?), Ohio, Michigan, and ?. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. On reflection, maybe the Great Flood was a similar event, intended to reboot our civilisation. Last I looked, that didn't work out for us, did it?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora