It will have breezed past us, says ISRO
As we wake up on Saturday morning, asteroid 2012 DA14 would have sped past us in its closest encounter with the Earth somewhere over the Indian Ocean.
Indian — and all other — space assets are out of harm’s way, safe from any effects of the asteroid’s flypast in the early IST hours of Saturday, according to space scientists. The celestial rock has been estimated to be 46 m in diameter and zipping in at 13 km per second.
Although the asteroid races through the atmospheric belt of hundreds of geostationary communications satellites — they orbit Earth at a distance of over 35,000 km — there is absolutely no threat to the 10 Indian spacecraft in this region, said a spokesman for Indian Space Research Organisation.
“The asteroid would have breezed past us as close as some 27,700 km distance at 7.24 p.m. GMT Friday (12:55 a.m. IST Saturday) over Indonesia. Analyses by NASA and our own [Indian Space Research Organisation] scientists find that it has no effect on any satellite, leave alone Indian ones,” the spokesman said.
Gravitational fragmentation unlikely
ISRO’s Space Debris Analysis Group was watching the celestial encounter and had assessed that “there is no possibility of gravitational fragmentation,” he said citing the group.
NASA, among the many agencies training their telescopes on DA14, also describes it as “close-but safe-encounter with the Earth.”
It is monitoring its transit through February 20.
Better still, catch it on a space camera: Slooh.com webcasts the encounter from 2 a.m. GMT (7:30 a.m. IST on Saturday) from Canary Islands off north-western Africa.