An asteroid will give Earth a historically close shave next week, but there’s no chance that the space rock will slam into our planet on this pass, experts say.
The 150-foot-wide (45 meters) asteroid 2012 DA14 will zoom within 17,200 miles (27,700 kilometers) of our planet on Feb. 15, coming nearer than the ring of satellites in geosynchronous orbit. While the flyby will be the closest ever known in advance for such a large asteroid, there’s no reason to retreat to the doomsday bunker.
“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 asteroidmight be on a collision course with Earth,” officials at the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., wrote in a statement Friday (Feb. 1).
“Nevertheless, the flyby will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close,” the statement added.