Countdown to asteroid flyby: Watch as experts discuss the flyby

Feb. 07, 2013 | 9:04 a.m.

Heart rates are picking up among scientists and sci-fi lovers alike as a huge asteroid prepares to swing by Earth next week.

Sky watchers who are on the edge of their seats can watch a live NASA media teleconference live Thursday at 11 a.m. PST, when experts will talk about our upcoming encounter with the 150-foot-diameter flying object.

Even better, you can watch a Ustream feed of the flyby provided by a NASA telescope at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.  That stream will be broadcast from 6 to 9 p.m. PST on Feb 15.  During the feed, NASA says, tweeters can send their questions to researchers.

As Hero Complex reported Wednesday, the asteroid will come hurtling toward Earth on Feb. 15.  NASA officials said Asteroid 2012 DA14 would come within “a remarkably close distance” of Earth. But the space agency said there was no chance — none — that the asteroid would hit our planet.

The orbit of the asteroid, which NASA has had in its sights for at least a year, is “very well known,” said Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, and it “cannot hit the Earth.” But NASA calculates it will come within 17,200 miles of our planet, about one-tenth the distance between Earth and the moon.

The asteroid has not been in the catalogs for long, NASA says.  Astronomers in southern Spain discovered it a year ago this month. DA14’s orbital pattern around the sun is about 368 days — much like Earth — so it’s made a series of close approaches, but this is the closest. But after this close approach, we can breathe easy for another three decades, NASA says, before it whizzes near us again.

Among teleconference participants: Yeomans, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Near-Earth Object office; Lindley Johnson, of the Near Earth Object Observations Program; and Edward Beshore, investigator with the University of Arizona’s  (brace yourself for the entire name here) Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer Asteroid Sample Return Mission.

— Amy Hubbard



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23 Responses to Countdown to asteroid flyby: Watch as experts discuss the flyby

  1. Acttorneyatliar says:

    This would seem an excellent opportunity to practice giving asteroids a shove off of its current trajectory, toward perfecting our ability to save the planet should we be in another asteroid's flight path. Or, when we are, I should say.

    • hammer says:

      Consider that we know this asteroids path and while close will not hit earth for many decades. Consider the irony of an asteroid this size being put into a collission course by a mission failure. It would be wise to test on smaller asteroids and ones that are farther away or have less frequent orbits.

  2. Joe says:

    So there are two opportunities for the asteroid to hit a geosynchronous satellite.

  3. LH12 says:

    Will its pass close to earth change its orbit Because of earths gravity? Do we know how much?

    • kederaji says:

      That's one of the things that is calculated long before they determine if the asteroid will hit the planet. The deflection of the asteroid's trajectory will not threaten Earth.

      • MMM says:

        I think the question relates to future orbits and how much change will occur due to how close it will be to the earth.

      • Jack says:

        Can't we heat up one side of the asteroid with a laser? I mean we have lasers that will cut and move things.

  4. Shaji says:

    Why are we spending Billions on space programs while we detect these asteroids coming at us and we dont even have a serious study to see if we can deflect it ? What happens if the next one detected is coming straight at us ?

  5. Whys says:

    You'd think such a close call would wake us all up to the very real and present danger. I guess not.

    • inverse137 says:

      I think the extinction of the dinosaurs made us aware of the danger. But there isn't much you can do…outside of hollywood…if you even knew a big rock were going to collide.

      • Whys says:

        You're right. We should just wait until a big rock inevitably kills us all. BRILLIANT! What did the extinction of the dinosaurs do for us again? You're proof of my point.

  6. duane schulte says:

    there could be quite a meteor shower associated with the flyby, since there's probably a lot of material orbiting the asteroid that would fall into the atmosphere. the object itself could come apart to some extent, due to tidal forces as it passes by. then that would give NASA/NEAR etc plenty of miniobjects to monitor and increase the likelihood that some of them would impact on future close-passes.

  7. Axe says:

    The Mayas were right, it's the end of times!

    • inverse137 says:

      The mayans never said the world was ending. Journalist said that.

      The mayan calander just finished its cycle. The judeo-christian calendar you use now ends its cycle every 12-months.

  8. marty st. cross says:

    Where will this asteroid be best seen from? if there is a meteor shower, can we expect to see this at night or daytime? Also, if it is likely to hit the earth, what country will it hit?

    • ahubbardpictures says:

      Hi Marty to see the asteroid, I’d stick with NASA stream (see story for time). No word of a meteor shower and NASA says: All countries safe. Personally, I’ll be crossing my fingers. Amy H., Hero Complex

  9. Chicken Eater says:

    The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Run while you can! [<cheep><cheep> said Chicken Little…]

  10. In which side of the planet is it facing as it is? Can hit the african side or not? How big can be its damage if it can hit the continent?

  11. Carlos says:

    Can the NASA put some cameras/satellite into one of this comets in order to get more info about the galaxy taking advantage of its trajectory ?

  12. Kolubalona says:

    can it be seen fro the Paifi region and what part of the day will the flyby be,night or day?

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