An asteroid half the size of a U.S. football field will pass between Earth and orbiting satellites next week, sparing the human race from the fate suffered by dinosaurs, NASA said.
The 150-foot diameter asteroid, named 2012 DA14, will pass about 17,000 miles above Earth on Feb. 15 — lower than the orbits of some satellites — in the closest recorded approach of an object of its size. It will travel at 7.8 kilometers a second (17,400 miles an hour), or about eight times the speed of a rifle shot, NASA scientists said.
“No Earth impact is possible,” Donald Yeomans, who manages the Near-Earth-Object office at Pasadena, California- based Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said [on Feb. 6] in a press conference.
The NASA unit monitors relatively small space objects such as DA14 to measure the risks they present to the Earth. Researchers said that studying the asteroid’s close trajectory will help NASA in preparing for a 2016 rocket launch and a planned encounter with the near-Earth object 1999 RQ36 two years later.
SEE COMPLETE TEXT