Asteroid will buzz Earth, miss by 17,150 miles
17,150 miles may seem like a long way, but in space, it's considered pretty close.
An asteroid named 2012 DA14 will make the closest pass to Earth in recorded history Friday. The asteroid's trajectory will have it moving swiftly and safely past our planet.
The 150-foot asteroid will be too small to see with the naked eye. The best viewing locations, with binoculars and telescopes, will be in Asia, Australia and Eastern Europe.
2012 DA14 is not part of the meteor shower that injured 1,000 in Russia today.
17,150 miles is closer than many communication and weather satellites. It will be closest to Earth at around 2:30 pm EST.
As asteroids go, this is a shrimp. The one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was 6 miles across. But this rock could still pack a wallop, wiping out 750 square miles if it struck.
NASA has several ongoing programs regarding asteroid discovery and science. The agency's Near Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes. The network of projects supported by this program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them and plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.
In 2016, NASA will launch The Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer mission - or OSIRIS-Rex to a different asteroid designated 1999 RQ36. The mission will mark the first U.S. project to return samples from an asteroid back to Earth for study.The small near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass very close to Earth on Feb. 15, 2013.
NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office can accurately predict the asteroid's path with the observations obtained, and it is therefore known that there is no chance that the asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth. Nevertheless, the flyby will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close.