Asteroid Bound for Close Call With Earth

But DA14 definitely won't hit us, NASA says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2013 2:19 AM CST
Asteroid Bound for Record Close Approach
DA14 is moving towards us at 17,450 miles an hour.   (NASA)

An asteroid big enough to flatten a city will zip closer to Earth than any previously observed space object its size on Feb. 15, but astronomers say there is zero chance of 2012 DA14 squishing any Earthlings this time around. With a 148-foot diameter and the mass of a cruise ship, the asteroid is relatively small, but still comparable to one that flattened 80 million trees in Siberia in 1908, reports the Christian Science Monitor. At its closest, it will be just 17,200 miles from Earth—closer than some satellites.

Astronomers believe objects the size of DA14 come this close to Earth roughly once every 40 years—and smash into it every 1,200 years or so—but this one wouldn't have been spotted as recently as 20 years ago, before the search for near-Earth objects was stepped up, CNN reports. The asteroid was spotted around a year ago by a team of amateur astronomers in Spain. "Its orbit is very well-known," a NASA expert says. "We know exactly where it's going to go, and it cannot hit the Earth," though there is a slightly higher but still very small chance that it could make impact when it flies by in 2110. Experts believe DA14 is made of stone instead of metal or ice, so it won't be of interest to asteroid miners. (More asteroid stories.)

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