Asteroid near miss: Too close for comfort
It is called 2012 KT42. It was discovered on Monday. It passed by Earth on Tuesday. It is a new asteroid. Fortunately, it did not hit and fortunately, it was only four metres wide, meaning that even if it had entered the atmosphere, it would have disintegrated. But 14,000 kilometres is too close for comfort and raises the question what if? Read on.
2012Kt42, 14,000 kilometres away. Toronto, Canada is further away from Sydney, Austria. It is the sixth nearest miss, according to scientists. However, due to the diminished size of the space object, it is believed it would have burnt up in the Earth's atmosphere and would not have posed a threat.
2012 Kt42 does, though, pose an eye-opener as to what could happen, and shows us how near we are to waking up one morning on a different planet. On Sunday it was undiscovered, on Tuesday is had, fortunately, passed by, as had another asteroid, 21 metres in diameter, on Monday, 51,000 kilometres away.
It gets worse...
A larger one, 45 metres in diameter, is expected to pass near Earth in 2013, this one being called 2012 DA14, whose orbit will be so close it will pass closer to the Earth than many satellites. It was discovered by the European Space Agency's Sagra Sky Survey in Spain in February and is expected to swoop by on February 15 next year.
2012 DA14, it is discovered, has been with us for a long time, has an orbit length of 366.24 days and is expected to pass over our planet twice per year, at a distance of 24,000 kilometres, considered perfectly safe by astronomers. However, what will the impact of the Lunar and Terrestrial gravitational fields be on future visits?
With a mass of 120,000 metric tonnes, if it did impact, it would create an effect some two thirds that of Tunguska (1908).