On February 15, an asteroid half the size of a football field will fly past Earth, only 17,200 miles above our planet’s surface.
This is the first time an object this large has been seen so close to Earth since NEO sky surveys began in the 1990′s.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered by amateur astronomers at the La Sagra Observatory in Spain on February 22, 2012. Orbital calculations show there’s no danger of 2012 DA14 actually hitting Earth, but it’s a pity we don’t have a quick-reaction sortie vehicle or tug that could get into position for a close look as it whizzes by. Such a vehicle would have a wide range commercial and military applications; the occassional rare science opportunity like this would be just an added bonus.
The Virtual Telescope Project will be holding a live coverage event starting at 22:00 Universal Time (5:00 PM EST, 2:00 PM PST) on February 15.