Asteroid 2012 DA14 To Narrowly Miss Earth

Posted on April 13, 2012

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View from one end of Eros across the gouge on ...

2012 DA14 was discovered after the astronomers decided to search areas of the sky where asteroids are not usually seen.

Dr Gerhard Drolshagen, a near-Earth object observer from the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) office, said: “The object is roughly 50 metres across and at that size it could do some damage if it exploded over an inhabited area. It would have the force of the biggest nuclear weapon.”

In 1908 an asteroid estimated to be 131ft (40m) across exploded over Tunguska in Siberia, flattening 772 square miles (2,000 sq km) of forest.

“That is an area the size of Greater London,” said Dr Drolshagen. “This asteroid is a little bigger.”

He said there was “no chance” of the rock hitting the Earth next year. The asteroid is expected to make its closest approach shortly after 6pm, UK time.

“Next year it will be nice to watch through a pair of binoculars, but there is nothing to worry about,” said Dr Drolshagen. “In future times the possibility of a collision cannot be completely excluded. It is highly unlikely, but the chance is greater than zero.”

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