The asteroid 2012 DA14 will make a record-setting approach to earth mid-afternoon on February 15th, 2013. Recently discovered by Spanish astronomers at the Astronomical Observatory of Mallorca, this 45 metre asteroid is the size of half a football field, and its 130,000+ tonnes will be speeding past Earth at 28,100 km/h.
Fortunately, NASA scientists have determined we are safe and that there is no reason to worry. Commander Hadfield and the crew on the International Space Station will also be in the clear; their orbit is steady at about 350km above the earth, and the asteroid will pass at 27,700 km, providing a wide margin of safety. The asteroid’s unusual orbit brings it in closer than geostationary satellites at 35,800km used for television and communications, but these satellites do not appear to be at risk.
This is the closest-ever safe approach of an asteroid since mankind began precisely tracking near Earth Objects over 20 years ago.
For more information, watch CTV News on February 15th at 9:00am, when Colin Haig, the 1st Vice President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, will be discussing this exciting astronomical event.