Earth Faces Close Encounter with 50-Metre Asteroid
By Timur Moon | February 9, 2013 11:36 PM EST
A 50-metre asteroid will pass closer to the Earth than any comparably sized object for 15 years, according to scientists at Nasa.
In the closest near-miss in years, the asteroid - known as 2012 DA 14 - is forecast to pass Earth at a distance of 17,000 miles at 7.26pm on 15 February, travelling through the sky at approximately eight miles per second.
Asteroids the size of DA14 strike Earth roughly once every 1,200 years, said Nasa astronomer Donald Yeomans.
"For objects this size, this is the closest predicted encounter we're aware of," said Yeomans, adding: "No Earth impact is possible."
DA14 was discovered last year by amateur astronomers in Spain. Had it been set on a collision course with Earth, it would strike the planet with the force of around 2.4million tonnes of dynamite, scientists estimated.
Nasa's early warning system tracks all near-Earth objects sized above 1km in diameter.
"Basketball-size objects come in daily," said Yeomans. "Volkswagen-sized objects come in every couple of weeks. As you get to larger and larger sizes, the number of objects out there is less and less, so the frequency of hits goes down."
Lindley Johnson, head of the Near-Earth Object Observations Programme at Nasa headquarters in Washington DC, added: "Although they woudn't cause a global catastrophe if they impact the Earth, they still do a lot of regional destruction."
The planet's last direct hit occurred in 1908, when a comet exploded over Siberia, destroying 80 million trees over 830 square miles.
About 60 million years ago, a six-mile-wide asteroid smashed into the Yucatán peninsular in Mexico, killing most of the planet's plant and animal life, including the then dominant dinosaurs.
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- NFL MNF: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Houston Texans 23 [PHOTOS]
- 2014 MLB World Series Game 1: San Francisco Giants 7, Kansas City Royals 1 [PHOTOS]
- 2014 MLB World Series - Game 2: Kansas City Royals 7, San Francisco Giants 2 [PHOTOS]
- NFL Thursday Recap - Denver Broncos 35, San Diego Chargers 21: Peyton Manning Has 3 TDs In Easy Win [PHOTOS]
Join the Conversation
- Xiaomi Redmi 1S vs. Sharp Aquos Crystal – Specifications, Features And Price Showdown
- ASUS Releases A Teaser Indicating The Arrival of New Zenfone and ZenWatch On October 28
- Boy Stoned To Death For Alleged Rape, Victim Receives Dowry From Militants
- Three Dual SIM Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Duos Variants Comes To China
- Russia is Creating Underwater Combat Robots to Protect its Arctic Territories
- ‘Lone Wolf’ Attack on Canada Parliament Hill Could be ISIS-Related
- Android Lollipop 5.0 Confirmed for Nov 3 Rollout as Nexus 6 Global Release Date is Delayed – Reports