Asteroid To Give Earth Record-Setting Close Shave - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Asteroid To Give Earth Record-Setting Close Shave

KHQ.COM - An asteroid half the size of a football field will give Earth the ultimate close shave this month, passing closer than many satellites when it whizzes by, but it won't hit the planet, NASA scientists say.

The asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly by Earth on Feb. 15 and zip within 17,200 miles (27, 680 kilometers) of the planet during the cosmic close encounter. The asteroid will approach much closer to Earth than the moon, and well inside the paths of navigation and communications satellites.

"This is a record-setting close approach," Don Yeomans, the head of NASA's asteroid-tracking program, said in a statement. "Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, we've never seen an object this big get so close to Earth."

Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered last year by an amateur team of stargazers at the La Sagra Sky Survey observatory in Spain. Yeomans  stressed that, while the asteroid's approach bring it closer than the geosynchronous satellites  orbiting 22,245 miles (35,800 km) above Earth, 2012 DA14 poses no threat of a deadly collision with the planet. [See Don Yeomans Explain Asteroid 2012 DA14 (Video)]

"2012 DA14 will definitely not hit Earth. The orbit of the asteroid is known well enough to rule out an impact," Yeomans, who heads the Near-Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. He added that the odds it will slam into a satellite are "extremely remote."

A fairly typical asteroid like 2012 DA14 — which measures 150 feet (45 meters) across — zips by Earth about every 40 years, but only strikes every 1,200 years, Yeomans estimated, and the impact of such an object would not be catastrophic over a wide area.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about the same size of the object that exploded in the atmosphere above Siberia in 1908, leveling hundreds of square miles in what scientists now call the "Tunguska Event," NASA officials explained.

Yeomans said an asteroid similar in size to 2012 DA14 slammed into Earth 50,000 years ago to create the famed Meteor Crater in Arizona. But the Meteor Crater asteroid was made of iron, which made its impact especially strong.

When asteroid 2012 DA14 zooms by Earth, NASA scientists will be tracking the space rock closely. The space agency plans to use its Goldstone radar in California's Mojave Desert to follow the asteroid from Feb. 16 to Feb. 20. The observation campaign should help astronomers build a 3D map asteroid 2012 DA14, as well as refine estimates on the space rock's shape, spin and reflectivity, NASA officials said.

Since the object will be moving across the sky so fast, only the most experienced amateur astronomers are likely to catch its close pass. But it could be a challenge.

"The asteroid will be racing across the sky, moving almost a full degree (or twice the width of a full moon) every minute," Yeomans said. "That's going to be hard to track."

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 2 bodies found in pickup truck near Washington highway

    2 bodies found in pickup truck near Washington highway

    Thursday, May 25 2017 8:04 PM EDT2017-05-26 00:04:42 GMT
    2 bodies found in pickup truck near Washington highway2 bodies found in pickup truck near Washington highway

    WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) - The bodies of a man and woman have been found in a pickup truck near a Washington highway. KCPQ-TV reported Wednesday that the Chelan County Sheriff's Office says it appears someone had been trying to conceal the vehicle. The deputy who went to the call had said someone attempted to conceal the truck with a blanket, duct tape and natural vegetation from the area. The bodies had been in the driver's seat and front passe...

    >>

    WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) - The bodies of a man and woman have been found in a pickup truck near a Washington highway. KCPQ-TV reported Wednesday that the Chelan County Sheriff's Office says it appears someone had been trying to conceal the vehicle. The deputy who went to the call had said someone attempted to conceal the truck with a blanket, duct tape and natural vegetation from the area. The bodies had been in the driver's seat and front passe...

    >>
  • Young inventor from Post Falls appears on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show'

    Young inventor from Post Falls appears on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show'

    Thursday, May 25 2017 9:16 PM EDT2017-05-26 01:16:56 GMT
    Courtesy Ellen TVCourtesy Ellen TV

    POST FALLS, Idaho - A young inventor by the name of Alex Knoll made his big debut on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show" Thursday. 12-year-old Alex is from Post Falls, Idaho and is the creator of an award-winning app. He developed Ability App to help improve the lives of those with disabilities by giving them resources to make informed decisions. On the talk show, Alex shared with Ellen stories of his hero and background on the app. Alex is 

    >>

    POST FALLS, Idaho - A young inventor by the name of Alex Knoll made his big debut on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show" Thursday. 12-year-old Alex is from Post Falls, Idaho and is the creator of an award-winning app. He developed Ability App to help improve the lives of those with disabilities by giving them resources to make informed decisions. On the talk show, Alex shared with Ellen stories of his hero and background on the app. Alex is 

    >>
  • Woman's warning after she says a stranger followed her home

    Woman's warning after she says a stranger followed her home

    Thursday, May 25 2017 9:04 PM EDT2017-05-26 01:04:30 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - One Spokane woman wants to warn people to be careful when they’re out by themselves after she says she had a run-in with a strange man. “He made the hairs on my neck stand up. He gave me a weird feeling,” she says. She didn’t want to be identified because she’s still afraid. She was out walking her dog near 55th and Freya when a man suddenly appeared very close to her “I looked up and he was right there,” she 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - One Spokane woman wants to warn people to be careful when they’re out by themselves after she says she had a run-in with a strange man. “He made the hairs on my neck stand up. He gave me a weird feeling,” she says. She didn’t want to be identified because she’s still afraid. She was out walking her dog near 55th and Freya when a man suddenly appeared very close to her “I looked up and he was right there,” she 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • New 'Blue Lives Matter' laws raise concerns among activists

    Friday, May 26 2017 1:39 PM EDT2017-05-26 17:39:30 GMT

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - More than a dozen states this year have passed "Blue Lives Matter" laws that come down even harder on crimes against law enforcement officers. The new laws came in reaction to a spike in deadly attacks on police last year. Some civil rights activists say the measures could set back community relations with police. 

    >>

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - More than a dozen states this year have passed "Blue Lives Matter" laws that come down even harder on crimes against law enforcement officers. The new laws came in reaction to a spike in deadly attacks on police last year. Some civil rights activists say the measures could set back community relations with police. 

    >>
  • 30-foot whale left to rot on beach near Twin Harbors State Park

    30-foot whale left to rot on beach near Twin Harbors State Park

    Friday, May 26 2017 12:25 PM EDT2017-05-26 16:25:06 GMT

    TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - Washington State Parks rangers will leave a dead gray whale to decay on the beach near Twin Harbors State Park after it washed ashore Tuesday.  The Olympian reports (https://goo.gl/kfr7ZU) that in a statement, state parks officials said "Visitors can expect strong, unpleasant smells as the carcass rots over the summer months." 

    >>

    TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - Washington State Parks rangers will leave a dead gray whale to decay on the beach near Twin Harbors State Park after it washed ashore Tuesday.  The Olympian reports (https://goo.gl/kfr7ZU) that in a statement, state parks officials said "Visitors can expect strong, unpleasant smells as the carcass rots over the summer months." 

    >>
  • Body of teen found downstream from Snoqualmie River falls

    Body of teen found downstream from Snoqualmie River falls

    Friday, May 26 2017 12:19 PM EDT2017-05-26 16:19:20 GMT

    SNOQUALMIE, Wash. (AP) - The King County Sheriff Office says the body of a 16-year-old boy who disappeared in the Snoqualmie River near Olallie State Park has been found.  The sheriff's office said Thursday evening that drivers found the boy's body about 450 feet downstream from the falls.  The teen was with two friends when two of them went over the falls. 

    >>

    SNOQUALMIE, Wash. (AP) - The King County Sheriff Office says the body of a 16-year-old boy who disappeared in the Snoqualmie River near Olallie State Park has been found.  The sheriff's office said Thursday evening that drivers found the boy's body about 450 feet downstream from the falls.  The teen was with two friends when two of them went over the falls. 

    >>