NASA has confirmed that a massive asteroid will buzz pass Earth later this month.
In a video released by the U.S. space agency on Thursday, NASA scientists warn that a massive asteroid will pass perilously close to Earth.
“This is a record-setting close approach,” Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a video released by NASA this week. “It will come interestingly close, closer than many man-made satellites.”
The asteroid, dubbed 2012DA14, will make a historically close pass with Earth, according to NASA. The asteroid is projected to pass Earth with less than 17,000 miles to spare — the closest encounter in modern history. The path of the asteroid places in a region that includes the International Space Station and many earth observation satellites.
While the asteroid’s passing will put it closer to Earth than previously thought, NASA confirms that satellites are not at risk of impacting the asteroid.
“The odds of impact with a satellite are extremely remote,” Yeomans noted. “Almost nothing orbits where DA14 passes the Earth.”
The asteroid is projected to measure around 150 feet in length and it is largely made of stone. NASA estimates that asteroids of this size pass Earth, on average, every 40 years, yet actually impact the planet once every 1200 years or so.
While astronomers say there is not a risk of impact, some scientists have warned that the asteroid could hit Earth during its next pass in 2020. That said, NASA noted that it plans to have its observatories track 2012-DA14 during the days leading up to and following its approach in an attempt to better determine its size, shape and trajectory. Astronomers will likely be able to better project its path seven years from now, possibly leading to better predictions regarding the odds of impact.
This is the latest asteroid encounter for Earth. Asteroid Apophis, a massive asteroid that passed Earth in early January, provided astronomers with a stunning show. That asteroid captured the attention of astronomers after the release of a 2004 study that predicted a 2.7 percent chance of the space rock hitting Earth when it passes within 22,364 miles of the planet in April 2029. Astronomers have since revised projections and the asteroid is thought to not pose a risk to Earth.
According to NASA, a massive asteroid will be visible in the sky on February 15, providing astronomers with an amazing chance to view the space rock.