Asteroid Close Shave: Should We Be Worried? NASA Explains [Video]

By Staff Reporter on February 2, 2013 1:32 PM EST

asteroid, close, shave, 2012 DA14, Earth, will, it, hit
Should we be worried? (Photo: Reuters)

An asteroid half the size of a football field will be the closest object to come flying past Earth, passing closer than many satellites.

NASA scientists say that the asteroid 2012 DA14 will plummet past Earth on February 15, 2013 with only a mere 17,200 miles in between.

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To put it in perspective, this asteroid will by flying past Earth at distant closer than the moon is.

"This is a record-setting close approach," Don Yeomans, the head of NASA's asteroid-tracking program, said. "Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, we've never seen an object this big get so close to Earth."

Yahoo reported that Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered last year by an amateur team at the La Sagra Sky Survey observatory in Spain.

Although this asteroid will by the closest object to come flying past Earth, it poses no threat of a deadly collision.

"2012 DA14 will definitely not hit Earth. The orbit of the asteroid is known well enough to rule out an impact," Yeomans said.

Yeoman estimated that impact of an object like 2012 DA14 (which measure 150 feet across) would not be disastrous over a large area (as long as you're not under it).

Still the thought of half a football field crashing into Earth is terrifying.

Asteroid 2012 D14 is the similar size of the meteor that slammed into Earth 50,000 years ago creating the infamous Meteor Crater in Arizon. However, Yeomans said that meteor was made of iron resulting in the especially strong impact.

Fox reports that NASA will be tracking the asteroid from Feb 16th-20th , which will reveal the physical characteristics of 2012 DA14's size, spin and reflectivity. This data will allow NASA to create a 3D radar map.

"The asteroid will be racing across the sky, moving almost a full degree (or twice the width of a full moon) every minute," Yeomans said. "That's going to be hard to track."

So, unless you're an astronomer ... it may be hard for you to see.

Ok, asteroid. Challenge accepted.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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