Friday, February 1, 2013

Close Shave

Because my novel Rock Killer is about asteroid mining (sort of like Gone With the Wind is about the Civil War), anything in the news about asteroids tends to grab my attention.

It seems that on February 15th a small asteroid (that probably looks nothing like the one pictured here) will make a record close pass by Earth.  As Fox News reports:

“This is a record-setting close approach,” Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program at JPL said in a video released by NASA this week. Yeomans, however, emphasized that the asteroid, designated 2012DA14, won’t hit Earth.

“It will come interestingly close, closer than many man-made satellites,” he said.
How close is "interestingly close"? About 17,500 miles above the surface at closest approach.  This is within the orbit of communication and GPS satellites.

 The rock is 50 meter wide (165 feet about) and if it hit Earth would most likely leave a crater like Meteor Crater in Arizona.  Not a catastrophic impact unless you're in the vicinity.

As scientist look we're going to find more of these Near Earth Objects (NEO).  NASA has a project to find as many as possible with the goal of, partly, give us some warning of an impact.  As we find more NEOs, we'll become aware of more close approaches to Earth that in the past we never knew happened.

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