Feb. 15, 2013
Asteroid 2012 DA14 as Seen from Siding Spring, Australia
This animated set of images, from the telescope known as the iTelescope.net Siding Spring Observatory, shows asteroid 2012 DA14 as the streak moving from left to right in the field of view. The images were taken around 9:40 a.m. PST (12:40 p.m. EST, or 17:40 UTC) on Feb. 15, 2013. The exposure time was 5 seconds long. Image courtesy of E. Guido/N. Howes/Remanzacco Observatory.
These are some of many images that may be taken of the asteroid during its close - but safe - encounter with Earth. It will be observed by numerous optical observatories worldwide in an attempt to determine its rough shape, spin rate and composition. NASA scientists will use NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar, located in California's Mojave Desert, to take radar images of the asteroid to determine its precise size and shape on Feb. 16, 18, 19 and 20. The NASA Near Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program will continue to track the asteroid and predict its future orbit.
Diagram depicting the passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about 150 feet (45 meters) in diameter. It is expected to fly about 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) above Earth's surface at the time of closest approach, which is about 11:25 a.m. PST (2:25 p.m. EST) on Feb. 15. This distance is well away from Earth and the swarm of low Earth-orbiting satellites, including the International Space Station, but it is inside the belt of satellites in geostationary orbit (about 22,200 miles, or 35,800 kilometers, above Earth's surface.) The flyby of 2012 DA14 is the closest-ever predicted approach to Earth for an object this large.
Gingin Observatory Spots Near-Earth Asteroid at Closest Approach
Video above: Observatory in Australia around the time of its closest approach, 11:24:42 a.m. PST (2:24:42 p.m. EST, or 19:24:24 UTC), Feb. 15, 2013.
At that time, the asteroid was about 17,150 miles (27,600 kilometers) above Earth's surface. The asteroid appears streaked because the telescope was focused on the stars while the asteroid passed through the field of view. Images courtesy of Gingin Observatory/Tonello.
Outbound Near-Earth Asteroid, as Seen from Spain
Video above: This set of images from the La Sagra Sky Survey, operated by the Astronomical Observatory of Mallorca in Spain, shows the passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 shortly after its closest – and safe -- approach to Earth. The images were taken around 12:59 p.m. PST (3:59 p.m. EST, or 20:59 UTC) on Feb. 15, 2013. The images have been sped up 10 times.
In the last set of images, the fainter object that passes near the top of the field of view is a satellite or another asteroid. Images courtesy of La Sagra Sky Survey.
The NASA Near Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using ground- and space-based telescopes. The network of projects supported by this program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them and plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.
The Near-Earth Object Program Office at JPL manages the technical and scientific activities for NASA's Near-Earth Object Observation Program of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The NEOO Program Office performs more precise orbit determination on the objects, and predicts whether any will become an impact hazard to the Earth, or any other planet in the solar system.
More information is available at: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/asteroidflyby.html
Asteroid and Comet Watch site: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/asteroids/main/index.html
Images (mentioned), Videos (mentioned), Text, Credit: NASA.
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