Saturday, 4 May 2013

Asteroid to pass Earth near miss


                            A graphic illustrating asteroid 2012-DA14 passing within 17,200 miles (27,520 kilometers) of Earth 

The US space agency announced on Thursday the megarock will find itself in the closest encounter known ever for an object of this size.

The best viewing location for the asteroid, which would be visible through binoculars or telescopes, will be in Indonesia.

Australia, Asia and Eastern Europe will also offer viewing spots for the rock that was discovered in February 2012.

“This asteroid's orbit is so well known that we can say with confidence that even considering its orbital uncertainties… no Earth impact is possible,” said Donald Yeomans, the head of NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

He said any damaging impact would be avoided as the rock’s path would put it in the “sweet spot”.

“The object that ... took out the dinosaurs was about 10 kilometers,” Yeomans added.

If the asteroid were to strike the planet, the impact would be equivalent to a 2.4-megaton bomb which could flatten a vast area.

“With an estimated size of the order of 50 meters, (2012 DA 14) is comparable in dimensions to the object that destroyed over 2,000 square kilometers of forest in Tunguska, Siberia, on 30th June 1908,” said Mark Bailey, the director of the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland.

Based on NASA estimates, an asteroid like 2012 DA 14 moves close to the Earth every 40 years.