In just about a week, an object flying at eight times the velocity of a high-speed rifle bullet, and with the explosive potential of 2.4 million tons of TNT, will zip past the earth so close that it will fly within the orbits of communications and navigation satellites, the Enterprise-Record reports.
But NASA scientists say it poses no risk to our planet. The object, asteroid 2012 DA14, was discovered almost exactly a year ago by a team of sky-watchers in Spain.
In a teleconference conducted Thursday, a group of NASA’s top scientists spent an hour telling the world’s press the precise orbit of the roughly 150-foot-diameter rock has no chance of hitting earth.
Speaking from his office in Pasadena, Donald Yeomans, manager of the Near Earth Object Office, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, confidently predicted the asteroid, at its closest approach, will pass between 17,100 and 17,200 miles over Indonesia in the dark of Feb. 15.
At that closest approach, the asteroid will be too dim to be seen with the naked eye and its extreme speed would make it hard to observe even if one could find it in the heavens.
The scientists say Australia woul be the best place to view DA14, but that would require a sophisticated telescope.
Yeomans said even though the asteroid poses no danger to earth, it still is a record breaker because it is the largest object ever observed this close to earth,