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Breaking News:

'Doomsday' asteroid may crash into earth

'Doomsday' asteroid may crash into earth

From Wikipedia: 2012 DA14

2013 passage


Older risks

Related Prophecy


Related in the News


'Doomsday' asteroid may crash into earth

Posted on 1 January 2013 by "the witness"

Updated: 16:04, Friday January 11, 2013

'Doomsday' asteroid may crash into earth

Astronomers following the so-called 'doomsday' asteroid Apophis which could collide with Earth have discovered it is 20 per cent bigger than previously thought.

Previous estimates put the asteroid's average diameter at 270 metres representing a mass that would equal the energy release of a 506-megatonne bomb, according to Nasa figures.

The European Space Agency (ESA) said its Herschel telescope had scanned the space rock as it headed towards its closest fly-by with the planet in years on Wednesday.

In a two-hour observation, Herschel returned a diameter of 325 metres, with a range of 15 metres either way, the ESA said.

'The 20 per cent increase in diameter, from 270m to 325m translates into a 75 per cent increase in our estimates of the asteroid's volume or mass,' said Thomas Mueller, of the Max Planck Institute for Extra-terrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, who led the data analysis.

Named after the god of evil, darkness and destruction in Egyptian mythology, Apophis sparked a scare when it was first detected in 2004.

Early calculations suggested a 2.7 per cent chance of the space rock hitting Earth in 2029 - the highest ever for an asteroid, but the risk was swiftly downgraded after further observations.

It is expected to pass even closer to the planet on April 13, 2036, according to Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

The object is being tracked by astronomers to help them fine tune the 2029 and 2036 risks of a collision.

Herschel, using thermal sensors, also found that Apophis is darker than previously thought, the ESA added.

Only 23 per cent of light that falls on it is reflected, and the rest is absorbed by the asteroid. Previous estimates of this reflectivity, known as albedo, were put at around 33 per cent.

This discovery is important because asteroids experience something called the Yarkovsky effect, or an increase in thrust that comes from alternate heating and cooling as the rock slowly turns in space.

Over time, this momentum can change the body's trajectory as it moves through the Solar System.

On February 15, a 57-metre asteroid, 2012 DA14, will skim the planet at just 34,500km, making the narrowest approach so far of any detected asteroid.


From Wikipedia: 2012 DA14 

Diagram of 2012 DA14 passing Earth on 15 February 2013

Diagram of 2012 DA 14 passing Earth on 15 February 2013

2012 DA 14 is a near earth asteroid with an estimated diameter of about 45 meters (148 ft) and an estimated mass of about 130,000 metric tons. [3] It was discovered on February 23, 2012, by the OAM Observatory, La Sagra in Spain (J75) [1] seven days after passing 0.0174 AU (2,600,000 km; 1,620,000 mi) from Earth on February 16. [2] Calculations show that on February 15, 2013, the distance between the asteroid and Earth will be 0.000228 AU (34,100 km; 21,200 mi). [5]


2013 passage

On January 9, 2013, the asteroid was recovered by Las Campanas Observatory (304) and the observation arc increased from 79 days to 321 days. [6] It is now known that on February 15, 2013 at 19:25 Universal Time the asteroid will pass at a distance of 0.000228 AU (34,100 km; 21,200 mi) from the center-point of Earth, [2] with an uncertainty region of about 0.000001 AU (150 km; 93 mi). [2] The asteroid will pass closer than satellites in geosynchronous orbit. The asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye, [7] but will briefly peak at roughly apparent magnitude 7.4. [8]Goldstone will observe 2012 DA 14 from February 16 through February 20. [4]

The 2013 close approach to Earth will reduce the orbital period of 2012 DA 14 from 366 days to 317 days. [9] The next notable close approach to Earth will be on 16 February 2046 when the asteroid will pass no closer than 0.0004 AU (60,000 km; 37,000 mi) from the center-point of Earth. [2]



  • The asteroid will not impact Earth on February 15, 2013. [7]
  • There is a 1 in 7,692,308,000 chance of 2012 DA 14 impacting Earth on 16 February 2110. [3]
  • It is rated a low −10 on the Palermo Scale. [10] (The risk is less than one billionth of the estimated risk of another similarly sized near earth asteroid hitting Earth during that time period. [11] It is estimated that there are more than a million near-Earth asteroids smaller than 100 meters.) [12]
  • It rates 0 (No Hazard) on the Torino scale. [3]

If it were to hit Earth, it is estimated that it would produce the equivalent of 2.5 megatons of TNT. [3] The Tunguska event has been estimated at 3−20 megatons. [13]


Older risks

In 2012 there was a cumulative 0.033% risk (1 in 3,030) of 2012 DA 14 impacting Earth sometime between 2026 and 2069. [14] In 2012 it was also known that the asteroid would pass no closer to Earth's surface than 3.2 Earth radii during the 2013 passage. [7]



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