Sunday, October 28, 2012
2012 DA14 on closest fly by an asteroid of its size in history of tracking NEOs
Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) 2012 DA14, estimated diameter of about 45 meters and an estimated mass of about 130,000 metric tons, will speed by at a distance placing it between Earth and closer than man-made telecommunications satellites in geosynchronous orbit. However, the asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye.
The asteroid will pass by satellites in geostationary orbit about 35,800 kilometers (22,245 miles) above the equator, (providing a remote possibility putting a communications satellite at risk of being smashed*). [A reader has advised that the asteroid "won't cross geosynchronous orbit as its orbit is highly inclined." See comment below.]
The asteroid, the size of a city block, will squeeze by Earth's atmosphere and the geostationary satellites orbiting the planet. It will be the closest fly by an asteroid of its size in modern history of tracking asteroids. Experts say there is no chance the asteroid will hit Earth - this time. But with more than 4,700 asteroids NASA has identified as potential threats to Earth, some as big as 16 football fields, these objects are getting a lot of attention (NBC News video).