Asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly by us in a month

Friday, January 04, 2013

The Wall Street Journal has done a great writeup today of an asteroid that will be passing by us next month at a distance of just 35,000 km, ten times closer to us than the moon. This flyby will resemble 2011 MD from 2011, an asteroid of some 7 to 15 metres in diameter that flew by at just 12,000 km from us. 2012 DA14 is bigger (45 m), but will still not be visible to the naked eye. After the 15th of February there should be a video or two or three showing it at closest approach, and Goldstone will also be observing it from the 16th to the 20th so we may see a fairly high-resolution radar 'image' of it as well. It's another free flyby.

Not much is known about this object except its absolute magnitude of 24.4, which suggests a diameter within a factor of two of 50 m. Due to the extremely close approach, this object will be a very strong radar target at Goldstone and we hope to image it with the highest resolution available (3.75 meters) from the chirp system.


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