Graphic depicts the trajectory of asteroid 2012 DA14 on Feb 15, 2013. In this view, we are looking down from above Earth's north pole (Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech)
An asteroid, approximately 150-feet in diameter, is expected to make a flyby so close to our planet Earth that the asteroid will actually be between some of our satellites and planet. Despite the apparent hysteria that follows such a cosmic phenomenon, NASA has explicitly stated that there is no chance of a collision with our planet.
On Feb. 15, 2013, Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass within 17,200 miles of Earth, which NASA describes this distance as 1/10 the distance to the moon, or around twice the diameter of Earth. Satellites in geostationary orbit are stationed 22,200 miles above us, and the asteroid won't be colliding with any of them.
Despite the fact that the flyby will be the closest should not be treated as a possible doomsday scenario (the asteroid, if it did hit us, would release the equivalent of 2.4 million tons of TNT, which is enough to level 750 square miles), NASA explains, and is rather an opportunity to observe an asteroid up close.
"NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office can accurately predict the asteroid's path with the observations obtained, and it is therefore known that there is no chance that the asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth,"NASA writes. "As there is no chance of impact, there is nothing that needs to be done about the asteroid. However, the flyby of 2012 DA14 is a great opportunity for science."
The asteroid is, in fact, so small that it won't be visible to the naked eye. NASA will use the Goldstone Solar System Radar in the Mojave Desert to generate radar images of the asteroid that will then be combined with data from around the world to determine the asteroid's spin and composition.
The next "notable" approach to Earth will be in 2046, when Asteroid 2012 DA14 will come with 620,000 miles.