Asteroid to make close encounter tonight
EARTH: Question: What has a diameter about the same as the Heroines Monument, weighs the same as 10,000 London buses, and flies at 23 times the speed of sound?
Friday 15 February 2013, 05:27PM
Answer: 2012DA14, an asteroid that is currently approaching earth on a near-collision course.
Experts from US space agency NASA say that the asteroid will come closest to earth early tomorrow morning, at 2:25 local time, and will pass over Sumatra, making it close enough to be seen easily from Phuket.
At its closest, the asteroid will be 27,700 kilometers from Earth which, say the boffins, is the smallest distance yet recorded in the history of close encounter observations.
Were it to collide with Earth, the impact of the asteroid would release energy equivalent to a 2.5-megaton nuclear bomb, or 150 times the size of the bomb used by the US to destroy 69 per cent of the Japanese city of Nagasaki in 1945.
Happily, according to the researchers, there is no risk of collision with the planet, though the huge chunk of rock will pass through a zone of space cluttered with weather and telecommunications satellites.
NASA will broadcast the event live, beginning at 2am local time. The broadcast can be seen here.