Posts Tagged With: Asteroid

Asteroid to Give Earth Record-Setting Close Shave on Feb. 15….


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An asteroid half the size of a football field will give Earth the ultimate close shave this month, passing closer than many satellites when it whizzes by, but it won’t hit the planet, NASA scientists say.
The asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly by Earth on Feb. 15 and zip within 17,200 miles (27, 680 kilometers) of the planet during the cosmic close encounter. The asteroid will approach much closer to Earth than the moon, and well inside the paths of navigation and communications satellites.
“This is a record-setting close approach,” Don Yeomans, the head of NASA’s asteroid-tracking program, said in a statement. “Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, we’ve never seen an object this big get so close to Earth.”
Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered last year by an amateur team of stargazers at the La Sagra Sky Survey observatory in Spain. Yeomans stressed that, while the asteroid’s approach bring it closer than the geosynchronous satellites orbiting 22,245 miles (35,800 km) above Earth, 2012 DA14 poses no threat of a deadly collision with the planet.
“2012 DA14 will definitely not hit Earth. The orbit of the asteroid is known well enough to rule out an impact,” Yeomans, who heads the Near-Earth Object Program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. He added that the odds it will slam into a satellite are “extremely remote.”
A fairly typical asteroid like 2012 DA14 — which measures 150 feet (45 meters) across — zips by Earth about every 40 years, but only strikes every 1,200 years, Yeomans estimated, and the impact of such an object would not be catastrophic over a wide area.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about the same size of the object that exploded in the atmosphere above Siberia in 1908, leveling hundreds of square miles in what scientists now call the “Tunguska Event,” NASA officials explained.

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‘Man in Moon’ created by asteroid impact the size of Austria



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The famous flattened image across the surface of the moon, long dubbed the “Man in the Moon,” appears to have been created by a giant asteroid the size of Austria.
A new study published in the British journal Nature Geoscience says the flattened, 1,800-mile-wide section of the moon’s Procellarum basin was caused after the large asteroid crashed into the moon’s surface.
“The nearside and farside of the Moon are compositionally distinct,” reads the introduction to the study. “The detection of low-calcium pyroxene around large impact basins suggests that the huge Procellarum basin on the nearside may be an ancient impact structure and a relic scar of the violent collision that produced the lunar dichotomy.”
Scientists at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology studied the distribution of minerals on the moon’s surface using data collected by Japanese moon exploration orbiters, the Asahi Shimbun reported.
The size of the asteroid is estimated to have been 180 miles in diameter, hitting the moon’s surface 3.9 billion years ago.
“The latest study explains why the moon’s two sides are so different,” said Junichi Watanabe, a professor of astronomy at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. “It helps unravel the mystery of the moon’s history.”

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House-Size Asteroid Comes Closer to Earth Than the Moon Friday: Watch Live


A new found asteroid the size of a house will fly closer to Earth than the moon on Friday (Oct. 12), but poses no danger of impacting our planet, NASA says.
The space rock, called asteroid 2012 TC4, is about 56 feet wide (17 meters) and will come within 59,000 miles (95,000 kilometers) of Earth at its closest point when it zips harmlessly by on Friday. That’s about one-fourth the distance to the moon.
But you don’t have to wait to see live views of the interloping space rock: There are two live webcasts of the asteroid today (Oct. 11). The Virtual Telescope Project and Slooh Space Camera, two groups that offer live telescope views of space via the Internet, will be providing the asteroid imagery.
The Virtual Telescope Project in Italy run by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi will provide a live telescope view of asteroid 2014 TC4 starting at 3:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT) via the project’s WebTV. You can access the webcast here: http://www.astrowebtv.org.
Masi has already recorded several videos of asteroid 2012 TC4, and will provide live commentary during the webcast. He said the public is often attracted to asteroid flybys because of their connection with asteroid impacts on Earth. But there is scientific value behind them as well.
“Asteroids are very intriguing bodies, strongly connected with the origin of our solar system,” Masi told SPACE.com in an email. “When an asteroid approaches our planet, we have good chances to study them better, especially small ones.”
The Slooh Space Camera views of asteroid 2012 TC4 will be webcast later today at 5:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT) and will be available here: http://www.slooh.com.
“One of our missions at Slooh is to provide the public with free, live coverage of amazing celestial events,” said Slooh President Patrick Paolucci in a statement. “We will be tracking asteroid 2012 TC4 live from our observatory located on the Canary Islands – off the coast of West Africa.”
Paolucci will provide commentary during the webcast and will be joined with Slooh’s outreach coordinator Paul Cox and astronomer Bob Berman, a columnist for Astronomy Magazine. The webcast can be watched via computer or mobile device, Slooh officials said.
It may even be possible for seasoned amateur astronomers to see asteroid 2012 TC4 using a small telescope.
According to the website Spaceweather.com, which monitors night sky events, the asteroid “will be close enough to photograph through backyard telescopes as it brightens to approximately 14th magnitude.” Magnitude is a scale used by astronomers to measure the brightness of objects in the night sky. The lower the magnitude number, the brighter the object.
NASA has reportedly been observing the asteroid 2012 TC4 with radar to better determine its orbit since its discovery on Oct. 4.
Asteroid 2012 TC4 is one of two asteroids to pass Earth inside the moon’s orbit this week. On Sunday (Oct. 7), an even larger space rock — the 100-foot-wide (32-meter) asteroid 2012 TV —passed Earth at a range of 158,000 miles (255,000 km), or about 0.7 times the distance from Earth to the moon. The moon is on average about 238,000 miles (383,000 km) from Earth.
NASA and astronomers regularly monitor the skies for near-Earth asteroids because of the potential threat a large asteroid strike could pose to our planet. NASA’s Asteroid Watch program is based at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
“We get passes between Earth-moon fairly frequently actually, although usually smaller space rocks,” Asteroid Watch scientists wrote this week on Twitter while discussing asteroid 2012 TV.
If you snap a photo of asteroid 2012 TC4 crossing the night sky on Friday, Oct. 12, and would like to share it with SPACE.com, send images, comments and location info to managing editor Tariq Malik at: tmalik@space.com.

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