Close Shave: Asteroid To Buzz Earth Next Week

Nell GreenfieldBoyce at NPR:

Asteroid-c4a5acc64533acdb6bd4413ae07b0679aa079a09-s3An asteroid the size of an office building will zoom close by Earth next week, but it's not on a collision course, NASA says.

Still, some people think this near-miss should serve as a wake-up call.

“It's a warning shot across our bow that we are flying around the solar system in a shooting gallery,” says Ed Lu, a former astronaut and head of the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting humanity from asteroids.

The asteroid known as 2012 DA14 was first spotted last year by astronomers in Spain. It's thought to be about 150 feet across and made of rock.

It will whiz past Earth on Feb. 15, going about 5 miles per second. At its closest approach, it will be only about 17,200 miles above the surface of our planet. That's far nearer to us than the moon, and even closer than some weather and communications satellites.

NASA officials say this event is one for the record books — the first time scientists have been able to predict something so big coming so close.

More here. And thanks to our reader “stone” see this cool visualization.

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