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130,000 ton asteroid will probably miss earth on Feb 15

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
da14_sizecomp.jpg


A space rock about the size of a jet plane will zip so close to Earth that it will briefly come between us and our weather satellites next week.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be just 27,700 kilometres from the surface — a mere tenth of the distance between the Earth and the moon — when it makes its closest approach around 2:24 p.m. ET on Feb. 15. At that time, it will be zooming by at about 28,100 kilometres per hour or 7.82 kilometres per second relative to Earth.

DA14 will come 8,100 kilometres closer to Earth than man-made weather and communications satellites that are in geosynchronous orbit, which means they circle the Earth once a day.

In fact, the 45-metre diameter, 130,000-tonne asteroid will come closer than any object its size has ever been predicted to come before.

The asteroid's orbit is so well known that "there's no chance of a collision," said Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near Earth Object Office, at a news conference Thursday.

Nor is it likely to hit any satellites, as it's too close to Earth to hit the geosynchronous satellites, but a lot further out than the bulk of satellites orbiting, including the International Space Station, located 386 kilometres above the surface.

"This asteroid seems to be passing the sweet spot between the GPS satellites and weather and communications satellites," Yeomans said.

He added that just to be safe, the U.S. space agency is giving satellite providers detailed information about the asteroid's position at different times so they can compare that to the position of their satellites.

While DA14 has been coming relatively close to Earth about twice a year, that's about to change, Yeomans said. As it flies by, the Earth's gravity will actually perturb the asteroid's orbit, shaving a couple of months off its usual 12-month travel time around the sun.

"It won't come back in the Earth's neighbourhood anywhere near as frequently as it has in the past," he said. "The Earth is going to put this one in an orbit that is considerably safer than the orbit it has been in."

NASA estimates that asteroids the size of DA14 actually fly this close about once every 40 years and hit the Earth roughly once every 1,200 years. The last time it happened was on June 30, 1908, when a meteorite crashed in Tunguska, Russia, and leveled trees over 2,200 square kilometres.

from cbcnews:
Jet-sized asteroid to pass between Earth and satellites - Technology & Science - CBC News
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I think they are just saying it will miss earth to keep people from rioting in the streets (in more places than they already are).
 
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alexd

Administrator
Staff member
hamilton-asteroid-blast-radius.jpg


If the Asteroid hit Hamilton....

A chunk of space rock about the size of a jet plane is set to zip between the Earth and our weather satellites on Friday afternoon. While NASA says we're not in any danger of a catastrophic collision, it's hard not to wonder what would happen if we were.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be 27,700 kilometres from the planet's surface — a mere tenth of the distance between the Earth and the moon — when it makes its closest approach to the planet around 2:24 p.m. ET on Feb. 15.

At that time, it will be zooming by at about 28,100 kilometres per hour or 7.82 kilometres per second relative to Earth.

It's predicted that the 45-metre diameter, 130,000-tonne asteroid will pass closer to Earth than any object its size has come in decades.

“It's a record close approach,” said Robert Cockcroft, manager of McMaster's WJ McCallion Planetarium. “An object of this size gets this close only once every 40 years or so.”

DA14 was discovered in February of 2012 and has been tracked since then. The asteroid's orbit is so well known that "there's no chance of a collision," said Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near Earth Object Office.

Nor is it likely to hit any satellites. It's too close to Earth to collide with the geosynchronous satellites, but a lot further out than the bulk of Earth's orbiting satellites, including the International Space Station, which is located 386 kilometres above the surface.

NASA estimates that asteroids this size fly this close to the Earth about once every 40 years and hit the planet roughly once every 1,200 years. The last time it happened was on June 30, 1908, when a meteorite crashed in Tunguska, Russia.

North Americans won't be able to see asteroid DA14, Cockroft says, as it's set to sail over the Indonesian region. Even there it won't be possible to see it with the naked eye, but amateur astronomers do have a shot at spotting the asteroid with a telescope — though the object's rapid speed could make that a difficult task, Cockcroft said.

The worst case scenario
But what if an asteroid this size was to someday strike, say, Hamilton?

Cockcroft says the impact would be something like the event in Tunguska, Russia, back in 1908. It leveled trees over a 2,124-square-kilometre territory.

However, estimates put the Tunguska meteor at around 100 metres, which is more than double the size of 2012 DA14.

But as Cockroft points out, that asteroid struck an uninhabited stretch of Siberia — so the collateral damage was largely confined to trees and land masses. If DA14 were to hit downtown Hamilton, the results would be catastrophic.

“It would create a very large impact crater and flatten everything in the downtown region,” Cockcroft said.

Shockwaves would emanate through the ground and be felt for kilometres. A “compression wave” of force would also push through the air, toppling buildings and blowing out windows, he added.

“You would have to evacuate the entire city of Hamilton and surrounding areas — maybe even much of southern Ontario,” he said, in order to avoid massive casualties.

Heat derived from the rock's entry into the Earth's atmosphere and the kinetic impact with the planet would likely cause fires throughout the city, too.

“With oxygen and fuels everywhere, things could spontaneously start igniting,” he said.

Hamilton wouldn't fare much better if the asteroid struck Lake Ontario.

“Then we'd have to worry about a giant tsunami created on the lake,” Cockcroft said. “It would be like a solid mass of water coming towards you.”

A drifting orbit
While DA14 has been coming relatively close to Earth about twice a year, that's about to change, NASA's Yeomans said at the press conference Thursday. As it flies by, the Earth's gravity will actually perturb the asteroid's orbit, shaving a couple of months off its usual 12-month travel time around the sun.

"It won't come back in the Earth's neighbourhood anywhere near as frequently as it has in the past," he said. "The Earth is going to put this one into an orbit that is considerably safer than the orbit it has been in."

Cockcroft says NASA is monitoring “millions of pieces of debris right now” that are less than 100 metres in diameter. “It's a laborious process, but in the end it could save us all,” he said.

He also lamented that asteroids are only viewed for their destructive capacity, when they also have the ability to help give rise to life.

“They were the things that brought the things to Earth that were needed to form life, like water and carbon,” he said.

“There is no denying their destructive side. But they also helped create life on Earth.”

from cbc:
Asteroid's near-miss with Earth: How bad would an impact be? - Hamilton
 
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