HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WNHT) – Today, the Earth will experience a close encounter with a small asteroid that is expected to whiz by more than 100 telecommunication and weather satellites in orbit.
But NASA scientists insist it will cause no problems and will not collide with Earth or any satellites.
Scientists say the asteroid, known as 2012 da14, is so small it cannot be seen with the naked eye.
A group of amateur astronomers in Spain discovered it last year.
It’s about the size of an Olympic swimming pool at 150 feet in diameter.
Scientists project it will come as close as 17,100 miles from earth during its approach today, closest at about 1:24 p.m. CST.
That would make it the closest encounter since scientists began routinely monitoring asteroids about 15 years ago.
Television, weather and communications satellites fly about 500 miles higher.
Donald Yeomans, Manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, said, “There’s really nothing to be worried about when this asteroid passes the earth. We understand its orbit extremely well and we can say with great confidence that there is no chance of hitting the earth and the chances of hitting the satellite are negligible.”
The asteroid will soar through the sky at about 8 miles per second.
At that speed, an object of similar size on a collision course with Earth would strike with the force of about 2.4 million tons of dynamite.
This has happened before. The last time was in 1908 when an asteroid or comet exploded over Siberia.
The blast levelled 80 million trees over 830 square miles.
Again, NASA insists there will be no impact, no damage from this close encounter.