Update: it missed.
It is only fitting that in the aftermath of the earlier meteor explosion above the Russian Urals, that the world's attention next shifts to yet another historic celestial event, this time of near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14, which will make a historic flyby of the planet, missing Earth by some 17,500 miles. According to scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs, the asteroid, which is 150 feet in size, an object of this size makes a close approach like this every 40 years. The likelihood of a strike is every 1,200 years. Of course, the neo Keynesian among us would wish the latter number was much smaller: just think of the untapped GDP potential that would result from the epic destruction. And while a direct impact would not lead to any mass extinctions as was the case 65 million years ago, when the earth was hit by a meteor 6 miles across, this rock could still do immense damage if it struck given its 143,000-ton heft, releasing 2.4 megatons of energy and wiping out 750 square miles. The closest approach will take place at 2:25 pm Eastern, and NASA will be covering the event live below.
Stream videos at Ustream
NASA Television will provide commentary starting at 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST) on Friday, Feb. 15, during the close, but safe, flyby of a small near-Earth asteroid named 2012 DA14. NASA places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home planet from them. This flyby will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close.
The half-hour broadcast from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., will incorporate real-time animation to show the location of the asteroid in relation to Earth, along with live or near real-time views of the asteroid from observatories in Australia, weather permitting.
At the time of its closest approach to Earth at approximately 2:25 p.m. EST (11:25 a.m. PST/ 19:25 UTC), the asteroid will be about 17,150 miles (27,600 kilometers) above Earth's surface.
In addition to the commentary, near real-time imagery of the asteroid's flyby before and after closest approach, made available to NASA by astronomers in Australia and Europe, weather permitting, will be streamed beginning at about noon EST (9 a.m. PST) and continuing through the afternoon at the following website:
A Ustream feed of the flyby from a telescope at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will be streamed for three hours starting at 9 p.m. EST (8 p.m. CST). To view the feed and ask researchers questions about the flyby via Twitter, visit:
The NASA Near Earth Objects (NEO) Program at the agency's headquarters in Washington, manages and funds the search, study, and monitoring of NEOs, or asteroids and comets, whose orbits periodically bring them close to the Earth. NASA's study of NEOs provides important clues to understanding the origin of our solar system. The objects also are a repository of natural resources and could become waystations for future exploration. In collaboration with other external organizations, one of the program's key goals is to search and hopefully mitigate potential NEO impacts on Earth. JPL conducts the NEO program's technical and scientific activities.