Asteroid 2012 DA14 Flyby: How to Watch the Closest Near-Earth Encounter on February 15

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By Jenalyn Villamarin | February 5, 2013 4:18 PM EST

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will make the closest flyby with Earth on February 15 but National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists assured the people there is no possibility that the 150-foot-wide space rock will collide with the planet. NASA will reportedly conduct a media conference on February 7 at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST, 1900 GMT) to discuss and prepare for the asteroid's flyby.

"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 asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth," officials at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California wrote in a statement dated February 1.

Ustream will provide the feed of the asteroid's flyby from a telescope at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The Asteroid 2012 DA12 flyby will be broadcast from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. PST (9 p.m. to midnight EST) on February 15 at the web site http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc.

The asteroid's flyby offers the researchers at NASA and other science institutions an exceptional opportunity to examine more about the asteroid and its orbit. "Radar astronomers plan to take images of the asteroid about eight hours after closest approach using the Goldstone antenna in California's Mojave Desert, which is part of NASA's Deep Space Network," the space agency officials further said in the released statement.

Meanwhile, the following people will participate in the upcoming media conference:

1.       Lindley Johnson, program executive, Near-Earth Object (NEO) Observations Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington

2.       Timothy Spahr, director, Minor Planet Center, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass.

3.       Donald Yeomans, manager, NEO Office, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

4.       Amy Mainzer, principal investigator, NEOWISE observatory, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

5.       Edward Beshore, deputy principal investigator, Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer Asteroid Sample Return Mission, University of Arizona, Tucson.

The media conference audio will be streamed live at following links:

http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2.

The images can be viewed at:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/asteroids/news/telecon20130207.html

while the interested asteroid watchers can obtain information about the 2012 DA14 near-Earth flyby at:

http:///www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/asteroidflyby.html.

Furthermore, NASA officials confirmed that the best locations to observe the asteroid flyby will be from Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia. The asteroid 2012 DA14 will become visible as a point of light with the use of binoculars or small telescopes during the time of its flyby. Unfortunately, spectators in the United States will not be able to witness the extraordinary phenomenon because the asteroid will have already grown fainter by the time Earth's rotation pass the space rock into their view.

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