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UPDATE: While waiting for asteroid 2012 DA14's close encounter with Earth, a 50-foot meteor unexpectedly crashed in Chebarkul, Russia. Nearly 1,200 people were reported injured by the shock wave from the explosion, estimated to be as strong as 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
Plus, in an unrelated occurance, asteroid 2012 DA14 passed safely by Earth just 17,000 miles above the surface. Read on for more information about asteroids and how we're trying to prevent a major catastophe from an asteroid collision with Earth.
Above asteroid 2012 DA14 as it flew past Earth.
NASA reports that asteroid 2012 DA14 on Friday Feb. 15 flew through the Earth's Geosynchronous Zone where communications and weather satellites orbit and at 2:25PM ET/11:25am PT to come within 17,200 miles of our planet. NASA says the asteroid is about 150-feet across and was traveling at 17,400 mph. NASA's NEO Program Office predicted it had no chance of hitting the Earth and almost no chance of hitting a weather or communications satellite as it bounces off our atmosphere.
If 2012 DA14 were to hit Earth, the impact would release about 2.5 megatons of energy, causing major devastation, say NASA scientists.
This asteroid was discovered in 2012, by the La Sagra Sky Survey which is operated by the Astronomical Observatory of Mallorca in Spain, when it was about 2.7 million miles away from Earth. Asteroids of this size have been known to strike Earth about every 1,200 years.
In this gallery, we'll look at ways we are studying asteroids and preparing for the worst. Our dear friend, the late Roland Piquepaille, prepared us to save the world with 50 ways to kill an asteroid.
This should give you a better idea of the size of the asteroid. It just a rock but its speed of 17,200 mph gives it the devistating power of a nuclear weapon. Scientists estimate there are over 500,000 asteroids about this size nearby but only 1 percent have been discovered.
Could this asteroid be a weapon hurtled toward Earth by the Klendathu race from "Starship Troopers"?