An Asteroid Will Skim Right By the Earth on Friday Afternoon

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This Friday afternoon at approximately 2:26 Eastern time, an asteroid roughly half the size of a football field (147 feet) in diameter will pass extremely close to the Earth—just 17,200 miles from our planet’s surface. That said, there’s no need to worry, as NASA scientists confirmed with certainty nearly a year ago that the asteroid will not make an impact and poses absolutely no threat.
Nevertheless, the proximity of the asteroid’s path is noteworthy: it will come within a distance 2 times the Earth’s diameter, passing us by even closer than some geosynchronous satellites that broadcast TV, weather and radio signals. As Phil Plait writes in his comprehensive post on the asteroid over at Slate, “This near miss of an asteroid is simply cool. It’s a big Universe out there, and the Earth is a teeny tiny target.”

The asteroid—likely made of rock and referred to as 2012 DA14 by scientists—was first spotted last February by astronomers at Spain’s Observatorio Astronómico de La Sagra. Asteroids, like planets, orbit the Sun, and this one passed us by on its last orbit as well, but at a much greater distance—it came within roughly 1.6 million miles last February 16. After this year’s near miss, the rock’s orbit will be altered significantly by the influence of Earth’s gravity, and scientists calculate that it won’t come near us again until the year 2046 at the soonest.

On Friday, though, it will pass by Earth between 18:00 and 21:00 UTC (1-4 p.m. Eastern time, or 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Pacific) and come closest at roughly 19:26 UTC (2:26 p.m. Eastern, 11:26 a.m. Pacific). That means that observers in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia get to see its closest pass at nighttime, whereas those in North America, Western Europe and Africa will have to wait until after sunset, when the asteroid has already begun to move away.

Written By: Joseph Stromberg
continue to source article at blogs.smithsonianmag.com

21 COMMENTS

  1. These ‘ere critters are getting closer…next one might fall on the Vatican, and save us further dumbfuckery…

    What are the odds of an asteroid just the right size to wipe out the holy see necrosis in Rome but leave the main city and its denizens intact?

    Coming down a tad year on year seemingly!

  2. First spotted only a year ago. Missing on this pass by only 2 earth diameters. I suppose this sort of thing has been happening all the time, just we’re now equipped to notice. After noticing, comes taking action, when necessary. Project Spaceguard looks increasingly like a worthwhile enterprise, and maybe the only point of difference between mammals and dinosaurs, in the long run.

  3. This Friday afternoon at approximately 2:26 Eastern time, an asteroid roughly half the size of a football field (147 feet) in diameter will pass extremely close to the Earth—just 17,200 miles from our planet’s surface.

    ..and there are some really dumb people who like to pretend there is great uncertainty about scientific laws and scientific calculations.

    Nevertheless, the proximity of the asteroid’s path is noteworthy: it will come within a distance 2 times the Earth’s diameter, passing us by even closer than some geosynchronous satellites that broadcast TV, weather and radio signals.

    It is even possible that it may hit or deflect some of them, but even that close to Earth, there is a lot of wide open space!

    Asteroids, like planets, orbit the Sun, and this one passed us by on its last orbit as well, but at a much greater distance—it came within roughly 1.6 million miles last February 16. After this year’s near miss, the rock’s orbit will be altered significantly by the influence of Earth’s gravity, and scientists calculate that it won’t come near us again until the year 2046 at the soonest.

    They is also this one:-

    When astronomers first identified Asteroid Apophis in 2004, they estimated that there would be a slim chance of collision as it passed within 20,000 km of Earth on April 13, 2029.

    NASA research shows that over the next 500 years, more than 1,000 asteroids and comets less than a football field in size are expected to impact Earth.

    There is also a great deal of space dust falling into Earth’s atmosphere

    Cosmic dust can also be detected directly (‘in-situ’) using a variety of collection methods and from a variety of collection locations. At the Earth, generally, an average of 40 tons per day of extraterrestrial material falls to the Earth – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic-dust

  4. In reply to #4 by Daniel Williams:

    Am I right in thinking it will miss us by about 15 min?

    At face value, yeah. 17,000 miles / 30km/s = 15 minutes.

    It’s most likely a bit more complicated. Two bodies travelling at an angle and speed from each other, assuming relative linear trajectories, with a 6,000 km sphere. I did an ‘intercept’ calculation like that once for some basic game AI, but can’t be bothered to work it out. Solving a simple 3D quadratic equation, if anyone wants to have a pop. :)

    If you want the real deal, with the effect of gravity (basically two bodies under acceleration, it’s more complicated. Quartic equation? :) Still solvable relatively easily I would imagine.

  5. In reply to #10 by papa lazaru:

    In reply to #4 by Daniel Williams:

    Am I right in thinking it will miss us by about 15 min?

    At face value, yeah. 17,000 miles / 30km/s = 15 minutes.

    It’s most likely a bit more complicated. Two bodies travelling at an angle and speed from each other, assuming relative linear trajectories, with a 6,000 km sphere. I did an ‘intercept’ calculation like that once for some basic game AI, but can’t be bothered to work it out. Solving a simple 3D quadratic equation, if anyone wants to have a pop. :)

    If you want the real deal, with the effect of gravity (basically two bodies under acceleration, it’s more complicated. Quartic equation? :) Still solvable relatively easily I would imagine.

    EDIT : Actually, it’s more complicated, since the acceleration on the asteroid is not constant!

  6. In reply to #21 by richard jr miles:

    So could it hit a satellite,or anything else up there.

    No, it’s approaching from the south, will pass inside the ring of geostationary satellites but won’t intersect the ring. No geostationary satellites will be harmed by this object.

    There is I suppose a tiny but non-zero probability of a collision with some piece of space junk or satellite in a high elliptical orbit, but not with any of the working geostationaries. No need to adjust your dish, TV will keep on working.

  7. “…even closer than some geosynchronous satellites…”

    Small correction: The geosynchronous orbit is at 22,236 miles above the Earth’s equator. Satellites that are not at this distance are not geosynchronous; their orbital period is either longer or shorter than the Earth’s rotation period. So the asteroid passes closer than ALL geosychronous satellites.

  8. Huge Meteor Blazes Across Sky Over Russia-www.slate.com

    I’m trying to piece together what happened from the videos. First of all, I do not think this is related in any way to the asteroid 2102 DA14! For one thing, this occurred about 16 hours before DA14 passes. At 8 kilometers per second that’s nearly half a million kilometers away from DA14. That puts it on a totally different orbit.

    It looks like this is independent of the asteroid’s passage, but asteroids, can have showers of particles travelling with them or breaking off them under gravitational stress or solar heating.

  9. In reply to #26 by Alan4discussion:

    Huge Meteor Blazes Across Sky Over Russia-www.slate.com

    It looks like this is independent of the asteroid’s passage, but asteroids, can have showers of particles travelling with them or breaking off them under gravitational stress or solar heating.

    Seems it came from a very different direction, so, not a fellow traveller of the thing we were expecting. Sneaky universe, got you looking the other way. I expect “coincidence” won’t go down too well in some quarters.

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