Space scientists at NASA have an eye on asteroid 2012 DA14. Why? The 45-meter-wide space rock is expected to come extremely close to Earth next year--on Feb. 15 to be exact--and just might take out a satellite in the process.
The asteroid will pass by satellites in geostationary orbit about 35,800 kilometers (22,245 miles) above the equator, reportedly putting a communications satellite at risk of being hit.
"That's very unlikely, but we can't rule it out," Paul Chodas, a planetary astronomer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told National Geographic. "The orbit for 2012 DA14 is currently very Earthlike, which means it will be very close to Earth on a regular basis."
But other than the small possibility of smashing a satellite, the asteroid poses no serious threat. It has a tiny 0.033 percent--or 1 in 3,030--chance of Earth impact, according to data on NASA's website.
The space rock should, however, offer some cool skywatching. Good binoculars or a telescope are needed to view the flyby since the asteroid will appear faint to the naked eye.
"Next year it will be nice to watch through a pair of binoculars, but there is nothing to worry about," Dr. Gerhard Drolshagen, a near-Earth object observer from the European Space Agency's Space Situational Awareness office, told the Press Association. "In future times the possibility of a collision cannot be completely excluded. It is highly unlikely, but the chance is greater than zero."
asteroid 2012 da14