Asteroid Heads Toward Earth, Destined To Miss
An asteroid, known as 2012 DA 14, will be passing above the Earth’s surface on Feb. 15.
NASA is constantly on the lookout for Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), which are any comet or asteroid that will be passing by Earth’s orbit in the near or slightly more distant future. This asteroid is notable because of the close proximity in which it will be flying past. At a distance of roughly 17,200 mi. above the Earth’s surface, it will be cruising at a height that’s only one-thirteenth the distance from Earth to the moon, and nearly 5,000 miles closer than the altitude at which some of our satellites orbit.
While NASA can assure Earth’s residents that this particular asteroid will pose no threat to the planet, if an asteroid of this size did hit land, it would cause some damage. One bigger could wipe everything out, or create another moon. After all, the dinosaurs became extinct due to a large space rock, and Earth’s moon was created when a planetesimal grazed the planet.
Fortunately, despite being the largest NEO to pass by at such a low altitude in recent history, even if NASA was wrong and it did get pulled to Earth, the planet would be fine. According to NASA specialist Dr. Don Yeomans, the asteroid is too small at half the size of a football field to do too much damage, and as it's most likely made of stone, would not have a significant enough weight.
While it will be impossible to see from the Americas, those armed with a telescope in Australia, Eastern Europe and Asia will be able to see it pass above Earth.
Watch a video on the asteroid by NASA below:
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