If you haven’t heard yet, this Friday, February 15, 2013 will be a close flyby of an asteroid named 2012 DA14. It’s turning out to be a highly anticipated event, as it will pass just 27,630 kilometers (17,168 miles) from the surface of the Earth, well within the range of many Earth-orbiting satellites. If you could watch the action from the vantage point of space, what would this flyby look like? Analytical Graphics, Inc., a company that creates modeling and analysis software for space, defense and other areas, has put together an animation which includes the asteroid’s trajectory as it approaches Earth, a closeup of the asteroid during its closest approach, a highlighted portion of Earth orbit that it is expected to pass through, and other interesting data.
The video above also provides a view of the asteroid’s pass by Earth below the geosynchronous orbit belt, how it will crossing the equatorial plane from South to North, a size comparison, and how the Earth/Moon will perturbs the asteroid’s orbit.
This asteroid is about 50 meters (164 feet) in size. Asteroid experts, including NASA’s Don Yeomans has , said there is no possibility of this asteroid hitting Earth, and they have also effectively ruled out the chance of any satellites getting hit.
The asteroid will not be bright enough to be visible with the unaided eye, but will be visible to backyard astronomers with good telescopes. The timing of the pass will allow viewers in eastern Europe, Africa, Australia and New Zealand to have the best chance of seeing this asteroid.
This asteroid must be stirring the imaginations of many; already renowned and award-winning space artist David A. Hardy has created a painting of his impression of 2012 DA14’s approach to Earth:
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.