Asteroid 2012 DA14 to sweep close on Feb. 15, 2013
by Deborah Byrd
A near-Earth asteroid – called 2012 DA14 by astronomers – will pass very close to Earth on February 15, 2013. Astronomers estimate that, when it’s closest to us, it’ll be within the orbit of the moon (which is about 240,000 mi away), and within the orbits of geosynchronous satellites (about 26,000 mi up). 2012 DA14 will be about 21,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) away.
It will not strike Earth in 2013. Astronomers’ calculations of asteroid orbits can be trusted. After all, even decades ago, they knew enough about calculating orbits to send people to the moon and bring them safely back, and today we are able place our space vehicles in orbit around objects as small as asteroids.
So, no, 2012 DA14 won’t strike us in 2013. There was a remote possibility it might strike us in 2020, but that possibility has been ruled out also.
What will happen when it passes us? The short answer is … nothing. On the day it passes, most of us won’t see it or be aware of its passage, in any way. The asteroid won’t alter the tides. It won’t cause volcanoes. It’ll just sweep closely past us – as millions of asteroids have done throughout Earth’s four-and-a-half-billion-year history – some in your own lifetime…
(read more: EarthSky) (images: NASA)