Get your telescopes ready: an asteroid is headed towards Earth next Friday.
The 150-foot diameter asteroid is predicted to pass 17,200 miles above Earth’s surface on Friday, February 15–the closest recorded approach to Earth for an object of its size. Specifically, the asteroid 2012 DA14 will “pass inside the ring of geosynchronous weather and communications satellites,” NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office reports. The asteroid was first discovered in February of last year.
But NASA experts aren’t worried about a collision—at least not this time. The Near-Earth Object Program detects, observes, and tracks potential Earth impact events, giving estimated year ranges when impact could occur, as well as the number of potential impact sites.
For DA14, “an actual Earth collision by an object of this size would be expected much less frequently, about once every 1,200 years on average.” Sure, that sounds like good odds: but when was the last asteroid collision with Earth?