Forget about that asteroid that could hit Earth in 2040, there’s a new one that may be headed right for us in less than a year.
Scientists have discovered Asteroid 2012 DA14, which will pass closer to Earth than most satellites on February 15 2013, and could pose a possible threat to human life.
Experts are now suggesting trying to confront the asteroid with either paint or big guns, as there is not enough time to try and build a spaceship to divert its path.
NASA confirms that the 197-foot asteroid, spotted by Spanish stargazers in February, will skim by Earth in 11 months. Its trajectory will bring it extremely close to our planet, sparking fears of a possible collision.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass by our planet in February 2013 at a distance of less than 16,700 miles, closer than the geosynchronous orbits of some satellites.
Note, that Asteroid 2005 YU55, which captured the attention of scientists in November 2011, passed by Earth at a distance more than 10 times higher than the distance of the Asteroid 2012 DA14.
Scientists are now feverishly coming up with some pretty creative ways to avert the potential disaster.
With the asteroid coming in that low and so quickly, it’s just about too late to do anything with it other than trying to predict its final destination and the overall consequences of its impact.
Experts seem to agree that a spaceship of some sort is needed, one that would shoot the rock down or crash into it, either breaking it apart or altering its course.
“We could paint it,” says NASA expert David Dunham.
Paint would affect the asteroid’s ability to reflect sunlight, ultimately changing its temperature and altering its spin. The asteroid would change course, but this could also make Asteroid 2012 DA14 even more dangerous when it returns in 2056, says Aleksandr Devaytkin, the head of the observatory in Russia’s Pulkovo.
That doesn’t matter, though, as building a spaceship to deal with the space rock would take at least two years.
2012 DA14 has been circling in orbit for three years already, crossing Earth’s path several times along the way, space analyst Sergey Naroenkov from the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Izvestia.
The outlook for the asteroid is not all doom and gloom, however.
“The asteroid may split into pieces entering the atmosphere. In this case, most part of it will never reach the planet’s surface,” remarks Dunham.
Still, if the asteroid were to crash into Earth, its impact would be as hard as the Tunguska blast, which in 1908 knocked down trees over a total area of 830 square miles in Siberia.
Scientists will be keeping a close eye on Asteroid 2012 DA14 in an effort to pin down the space rock’s path.
- Asteroid heads towards Earth with one in 625 chance of hitting planet (telegraph.co.uk)
- Don’t panic! Large asteroid could be hurtling towards Earth – but we have 28 years to divert it (mirror.co.uk)
- Move an Asteroid Approaching Earth (socyberty.com)