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Cape Canaveral, FL - Asteroid To Pass Within 17,200 Miles Of Earth Today

Published on: February 15, 2013 12:48 PM
By: AP
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This image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows a simulation of asteroid 2012 DA14 approaching from the south as it passes through the Earth-moon system on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. The 150-foot object will pass within 17,000 miles of the Earth. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech)This image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows a simulation of asteroid 2012 DA14 approaching from the south as it passes through the Earth-moon system on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. The 150-foot object will pass within 17,000 miles of the Earth. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Cape Canaveral, FL - A 150-foot asteroid hurtled toward Earth’s backyard, destined Friday to make the closest known flyby for a rock of its size.

NASA promised the asteroid would miss Earth by 17,150 miles, avoiding catastrophe. But that’s still closer than many communication and weather satellites; scientists insisted these, too, would be spared.

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Asteroid 2012 DA14, as it’s called, is too small to see with the naked eye even at its closest approach around 2:25 p.m. EST, over the Indian Ocean near Sumatra.

The best viewing locations, with binoculars and telescopes, are in Asia, Australia and eastern Europe. Even there, all anyone can see is a pinpoint of light as the asteroid zooms by at 17,400 mph.

As asteroids go, DA14 is a shrimp. The one that wiped out the dinosaurs was 6 miles across. But this rock could still do immense damage if it struck, releasing the energy equivalent of 2.4 million tons of TNT and wiping out 750 square miles.

Scientists are certain it won’t impact Earth. And chances are extremely remote it will run into any of the satellites orbiting 22,300 miles up.

Most of the solar system’s asteroids are situated in a belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and remain stable there for years. Some occasionally pop out, though, into Earth’s neighborhood.

The flyby provides a rare learning opportunity for scientists eager to keep future asteroids at bay - and a prime-time advertisement for those anxious to step up preventive measures.

“We are in a shooting gallery and this is graphic evidence of it,” said former Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, chairman emeritus of the B612 Foundation, committed to protecting Earth from dangerous asteroids.

Schweickart noted that 500,000 to 1 million sizable near-Earth objects - asteroids or comets - are out there. Yet less than 1 percent - fewer than 10,000 - have been inventoried.

Humanity has to do better, he said. The foundation is working to build and launch an infrared space telescope to find and track threatening asteroids.

DA14 - discovered by Spanish astronomers last February - is “such a close call” that it is a “celestial torpedo across the bow of spaceship Earth,” Schweickart said in a phone interview Thursday.

Astronomers organized asteroid-encounter parties for Friday and experts just about everywhere were giving flyby rundowns.

NASA’s deep-space antenna in California’s Mojave Desert was ready to collect radar images, but not until eight hours after the closest approach given the United States’ poor positioning for the big event.

Scientists at NASA’s Near-Earth Object program at California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory estimate that an object of this size makes a close approach like this every 40 years. The likelihood of a strike is every 1,200 years.

If a killer asteroid was, indeed, incoming, a spacecraft could be launched to nudge the asteroid out of Earth’s way, changing its speed and the point of intersection. A second spacecraft would make a slight alteration in the path of the asteroid and ensure it never intersects with the planet again, Schweickart said.

Of course, this is all in theory.

Forget an asteroid blowup like the one depicted in the 1998 film “Armageddon.” The last thing Earth needs is asteroid fragments raining down.

“Thanks, Hollywood,” Schweickart said with a laugh.


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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Feb 15, 2013 at 01:56 PM ModernLakewoodGuy Says:

This is just the natural evolution of planets. If you look at mars, the moon, they are pocked with craters. You can even find craters right here in the U.S. The dinosaurs were wiped out from a giant meteor and there is nothing to say something that large won't strike again and wipe out humanity.

2

 Feb 15, 2013 at 03:43 PM VeyIzMir Says:

Reply to #1  
ModernLakewoodGuy Says:

This is just the natural evolution of planets. If you look at mars, the moon, they are pocked with craters. You can even find craters right here in the U.S. The dinosaurs were wiped out from a giant meteor and there is nothing to say something that large won't strike again and wipe out humanity.

That's only if you don't believe in the Holy Torah and Hashem as yourself.

We on the other hand do not bive the dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteorite and this world is next.

If you have a little bit of bitochon and believed at drop of what the Torah and Chachomim tell us, you would be able to sleep better at night and stop ducking behind your desk all day.

3

 Feb 15, 2013 at 06:04 PM ModernLakewoodGuy Says:

Reply to #2  
VeyIzMir Says:

That's only if you don't believe in the Holy Torah and Hashem as yourself.

We on the other hand do not bive the dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteorite and this world is next.

If you have a little bit of bitochon and believed at drop of what the Torah and Chachomim tell us, you would be able to sleep better at night and stop ducking behind your desk all day.

I see, so how did the dinosaurs get here? what happend to them? The torah makes no mention of that species of animal so you are not bound by the torah to not believe they exist in the face of scientific evidence.

4

 Feb 16, 2013 at 07:08 PM VeyIzMir Says:

Reply to #3  
ModernLakewoodGuy Says:

I see, so how did the dinosaurs get here? what happend to them? The torah makes no mention of that species of animal so you are not bound by the torah to not believe they exist in the face of scientific evidence.

Put in your thinking cap. The Torah specifically mentions that all the animals veered off the straight path.

The result could easily have been dinosaurs.

The end result was the Mabul.

Easy as that. No meteorites necessary.

5

 Feb 16, 2013 at 08:57 PM Aron1 Says:

Reply to #3  
ModernLakewoodGuy Says:

I see, so how did the dinosaurs get here? what happend to them? The torah makes no mention of that species of animal so you are not bound by the torah to not believe they exist in the face of scientific evidence.

"Modern Lakewood Guy", where are you posting from? (your post was on Friday at 6:04 pm!).
re: dinosaurs: read Rabbi Avigdor Miller and educate yourself.

6

 Feb 16, 2013 at 10:29 PM ModernLakewoodGuy Says:

Reply to #5  
Aron1 Says:

"Modern Lakewood Guy", where are you posting from? (your post was on Friday at 6:04 pm!).
re: dinosaurs: read Rabbi Avigdor Miller and educate yourself.

I am on the west coast so my shabbos did not start until 3 hours after yours

7

 Feb 16, 2013 at 10:33 PM Secular Says:

Whats the big deal ? A meteor hit Russia two days ago.

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 Feb 17, 2013 at 12:54 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
ModernLakewoodGuy Says:

I see, so how did the dinosaurs get here? what happend to them? The torah makes no mention of that species of animal so you are not bound by the torah to not believe they exist in the face of scientific evidence.

Vayivra Elokim es hataninim hagedolim - in some places in Tanach taninim mean either crocodiles or snakes, I.e. reptiles. So Hashem created big reptiles, and most of them died in the mabul, but some might still live, like Loch Ness Monster and reports of dinosaurs in the Congo. In Texas, dinosaur footprints and human footprints were found together, so this is possible. Another explanation, though, is that of the Tiferes Yisroel, who mentions two types of dinosaurs by name, Megalosaurus and Iguanadon, which were the first two identified by science even before the word "dinosaur" was coined. He refers there to Midrashim speaking of Hashem creating and destroying worlds before this one. So that is another possibility (although most say these worlds were spiritual and it is not possible to find physical evidence like fossils, so the Mabul theory seems more oisgehalten, and this was the shittah of Moreinu HaRav Avigdor Miller ztl)

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