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NASA: Asteroid will get 'remarkably close'

  • 2012 DA14 will come between Earth and some satellites
  • NASA says 'no chance' it will hit us
File photo

The "closest ever predicted Earth approach for an object this large."

That's how NASA is describing an asteroid hurtling toward our big blue marble. But there's no need to rush the family to your bug-out location -- it's not going hit us.  

The rock headed our way is called 2012 DA14. It's about 150 feet in diameter and weighs about 130,000 metric tons.

How close will it get? Officially, NASA says 2012 DA14 will be 17,200 miles away at its closest point on Friday, February 15.

For comparison: The moon is 238,900 miles away. Satellites in geostationary orbit, or following the direction of Earth's rotation, are just over 22,000 miles away. And the International Space Station is about 220 miles up. So astronomically speaking, this is an extremely close fly-by.

INFOGRAPHIC: A close encounter of an 'asteroid' kind

Still, the space agency says there's no chance the asteroid will hit us. According to NASA's FAQ: "The asteroid’s path is understood well enough that there is no chance of a collision with the Earth."

While it won't be visible to the naked eye, if you are in parts of Europe, Africa or Asia and have a strong pair of binoculars or a moderately powered telescope you might be able to see 2012 DA14 as it passes.

An object of similar size has hit Earth in the fairly recent past. In 1908, a slightly smaller space rock is probably to blame for what's known as the "Tunguska Event" in Siberia. NASA says that impact of that event, "is believed to have flattened about 750 square miles of forest." 

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