Forty-five-metre wide, 130,000-ton asteroid set to make closest-ever flyby of Earth next week
It will be one near-miss for man. But a new breed of space entrepreneurs hope it will presage one giant leap for mankind.
When Asteroid 2012-DA14 hurtles past Earth February 15 in what counts as the closest of cosmic calls, U.S. government scientists will be closely tracking its path from NASA’s observatory in the Californian desert.
Not least thanks to the attention of Hollywood, the world’s interest in asteroid fly-bys has until now been focused on the danger of a cataclysmic collision.
The 130,000-ton lump of debris measuring 45 metres across will pass at 29,000 km/h within 27,000 km — the largest asteroid to fly so close since we’ve been tracking them. It will be closer than many of the satellites circling the planet, though it’s unlikely to collide with them, according to NASA. (NASA/YouTube)