CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. A 150-foot asteroid hurtled toward Earth’s backyard, destined Friday to make the closest known flyby for a rock of its size.
NASA promised the asteroid would miss Earth by 17,150 miles, avoiding catastrophe. But that’s still closer than many communication and weather satellites; scientists insisted these, too, would be spared.
Asteroid 2012 DA14, as it’s called, is too small to see with the naked eye even at its closest approach about 1:25 p.m. CST, over the Indian Ocean near Sumatra.
The best viewing locations, with binoculars and telescopes, are in Asia, Australia and eastern Europe. Even there, all anyone can see is a pinpoint of light as the asteroid zooms by at 17,400 mph.
As asteroids go, DA14 is a shrimp. The one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was 6 miles across. But this rock could still do immense damage if it struck, releasing the energy equivalent of 2.4 million tons of TNT and wiping out 750 square miles.