Asteroid to make VERY close approach with Earth

2012 DA14 to fly within orbit of geostationary communications satellites

12 February 2013

Those of you who follow us on Twitter (@NEOShieldTeam) are quite familiar with our continuous updates on Near Earth Object (NEO) close approaches. This week, however, we'll have a near miss that'll be a little too close for comfort.

An asteroid named 2012 DA14 will have a near miss with the Earth on 15 February 2013 at 19:25 UTC. When it passes our planet, the asteroid will only be 28,000km above Earth. This places it within the orbit of the geostationary communications satellites 36,000km above Earth, and close to the orbit of GPS satellites, making it a very close approach indeed. 2012 DA14 is 35-80 metres in size and will be travelling at 7.8km/s relative to the Earth (28,000km/h or 17,400mph).

The animation below shows the fly-by of 2012 DA14 as it passes within the communication satellites orbit, narrowly missing the Earth.

Animation courtesy of Analytical Graphics, Inc.

Although 2012 DA14 is not visible with the naked eye, there will be an opportunity to view it. If you are familiar with the night sky or have access to a local astronomy club, the European Space Agency (ESA) have provided some specifications for viewing 2012 DA14. It will approach Earth from the south, becoming visible in northern Europe in the evening, a couple of hours after sunset. Visit ESA’s page here for more information.

Finding 2012 DA14 may not be easy because it is moving quickly. If you wish to see this once-in-a-lifetime close approach but don’t have a local astronomy club, NASA will be providing commentary and a livestream of the fly-by from telescopes in Australia and Europe, weather permitting.

If you would like to know more about the NEOShield Project, asteroid and comet fly-bys and more, you can sign up to our mailing list for updates, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.