Sunday, February 10, 2013

Asteroid Fly-By Closer Than Satellites !

Miss Me ??  I'm back....after a week off fighting a virus, I find there's plenty of info piling up.....coming from my many website sources to keep me busy for weeks.  Let's get started!

An asteroid half the size of a US football field will dart between Earth and orbiting satellites this coming Saturday, sparing the human race and putting on a show for sky gazers in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia, NASA said. The 45 meter (150 foot) asteroid, named 2012 DA14 (according to NASA's Near Earth Object Program), will pass over the Indian Ocean at about 27, 358 kilometres -- lower than the orbits of some 400 satellites -- in the closest known approach of an object this size. ''It will come extremely close and travel in a north-to-south trajectory at 7.8 kilometres a second, or about 8 times the speed of a rifle shot'', NASA scientists said last week.  Could you image the tsunami it would cause if it did hit the Indian Ocean? It would make the Boxing Day (Dec 26th) tsunami look like a rock dropped in a wading pool!

''No Earth impact is possible," says Donald Yeomans, who manages the Near-Earth-Object office at Pasadena, California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The NASA unit monitors relatively small space objects such as DA14 to measure the risks they present to the Earth. Researchers said the asteroid's close trajectory will help NASA in preparing for an eventual encounter with a near-Earth object later this decade. While a strike by an asteroid DA14's size would  do ''a lot of regional destruction,'' it wouldn't be catastrophic to the planet's population, said Lindley Johnson, program executive for NASA's Near-Earth-Object observations program in Washington. Sadly, for the fantatical environmentalists desires, the damage would rival an impact event in Russia in 1908 that leveled trees over a 2123.8 square-kilometres (820-square-mile) territory. The asteroid that is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs was about 10-kilometres in diameter.

2012 DA14 was discovered by amateur astronomers in February 2012, and has been tracked by NASA ever since. ''When we first discover them we really can't say  where in its orbit its going to be at a particular time very accurately,'' explains Yeomans,  "If we can get the radars on them right after we discover them then we can nail their orbit for another 100-200 years and run them out and see if there's a problem. If not, we put them aside and go on to the next one.'' The asteroid will be ''pinged'' by NASA's Goldstone Radar in the Mojave desert. The radar will send a beam and then by measuring how and when it bounces back, the scientists can measure its characteristics.

The Way I See It....the scientists have determined DA14 to be a fairly normal asteroid. It is medium-sized and made of stone, as opposed to ice or iron like some asteroids floating around out there in space. Asteroids about this size fly by Earth once every 40 years on average, and strike about once every 1,200 years.

I was fortunate to see the result of an iron 50-meter asteroid in South-West United States that impacted about 50,000 years ago, leveling and killing every living thing in an area 80.5 kilometers (50 miles) around and leaving behind the Meteor Crater in Arizona. At 1200 metres (4000 feet) in diameter and 170 meters deep (570 feet) it is quite a sight!

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