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New asteroid to pass closer to Earth next year


The asteroid is the yellow dot, and Earth is green; the two orbits intersect twice per year. Photo: Deimos-Space.

PARIS (BNS): A newly discovered asteroid dubbed 2012 DA14 is expected to come closer than many satellites when it whizzes past Earth next year, ESA said.

According to current predictions on its next flyby, due on 15 February 2013, the asteroid will pass Earth at just 24 000 km, closer than many commercial satellites.

"This is a safe distance, but it is still close enough to make the asteroid visible in normal binoculars," Detlef Koschny, responsible for near-earth objects in ESA's Space Situational Awareness (SSA) office was quoted as saying.

The 50 m asteroid was discovered on 22 February by La Sagra Sky Survey observatory, in the southeast of Spain.

The amateur team use several automated telescopes to scan the sky, and the discovery came after they decided to search areas of the sky where asteroids are not seen.

While an impact with Earth has been ruled out on the asteroid's next visit, astronomers will use that close approach for more studies and calculate the Earth and Moon's gravitational effects on it.

Tags:

Asteroid  Earth  ESA  

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