Asteroid nears but will not strike Earth

Asteroid 2012 DA14 path image from space.com

Asteroid 2012 DA14 path image from space.com

Asteroid 2012 DA14 path image from space.com

Asteroid 2012 DA14 path image from space.com

An asteroid will come close to satellites orbiting Earth but scientists say there is no chance the rock will hit our planet.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about half the size of a football field.  It will come closer than the moon Friday, February 15, 2013 but it will stay more than 17,000 miles from Earth’s surface.

NASA scientists say they have never seen an object this big get so close to Earth.

“2012 DA14 will definitely not hit Earth. The orbit of the asteroid is known well enough to rule out an impact,” said Don Yeomans of NASA.  He said the odds the asteroid will collide with a satellite are “extremely remote.”

The asteroid will be difficult to track, since it will move across the sky so fast.  U.S. observers might be able to see a faint image of the asteroid with a telescope at around 6 p.m. Central time.

An asteroid like 2012 DA14 goes by Earth about every 40 years, but it only strikes the planet about every 1,200 years.  A similar-sized object exploded in the atmosphere above Siberia in 1908.  The famous Meteor Crater in Arizona was created when an asteroid similar in size to 2012 DA14 hit Earth 50,000 years ago.

NASA will offer complete online coverage of the event – click here.

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