NASA: asteroid to have near-Earth flyby on Feb. 15

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Pasadena, CA, United States (4E) – An asteroid half the size of a football field and with a mass of a cruise ship will pass 17,200 miles from the Earth’s surface on Feb. 15, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The 49-yard-wide Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be closer than most GPS and TV satellites and can be seen in Australia, Asia and Eastern Europe using binoculars and telescopes at its nearest approach to Earth, said NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office, which tracks asteroid, comets and meteoroids passing close to Earth.

It will be the closest approach by an asteroid of that size since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, Yeomans had said.

Although it will not hit Earth, the force of an impact by 2012 DA14 could be similar to the event in Tunguska, Russia in 1908. Trees in an area of more than 820 miles were decimated when the asteroid landed in the Siberian forest region.

The La Sagra Sky Survey in Spain discovered 2012 DA14 in February last year.

The asteroid will be faint to see in the U.S., but NASA plans to study the object through the Goldstone radar in the Mojave Desert.

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