Mountain View, California: Keeping alive its fabulous tradition, search giant Google has come up with a cool Doodle on Friday when newly discovered asteroid 2012 DA14, about half the size of a football field, will make a record-setting close approach to Earth.
The Doodle has the second ‘g’ on Google jumping away from its position to avoid being hit by the Asteriod.
DA14 is the largest known object of its size to pass this close; scientists say there is no chance of an impact, this week or in the foreseeable future. Its closest approach will occur at 19.40 GMT (1.10 IST) Feb 15-16 as it shoots past in a south-north direction above Earth. It will not be visible with naked eyes but can be seen using binoculars in clear sky conditions.
150-foot-wide or nearly 13 stories big and weighing around 130,000 tonnes, DA14 was detected in February last year by La Sagra Observatory in southern Spain.
Travelling at between 12,427mph (20,000kph) and 18,641mph (30,000kph) - around five miles (8km) a second, or eight times the speed of a rifle bullet - the asteroid will fly inside the orbits of high geostationary satellites some 22,000 miles (35,406km) above the Earth.
For scientists, DA14 presents a rare, albeit short, opportunity to study an asteroid close-up. In addition to trying to determine what minerals it contains, which is of potential commercial interest as well as scientific, astronomers want to learn more about the asteroid's spin rate. The information not only will be useful to plotting DA14's future visits but could help engineers develop techniques to thwart more threatening asteroids.
Amateurs and commoners can also watch the flyby online, real time, at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/clay-center-observatory] and [http://events.slooh.com/]
Near Earth Asteroid
The asteroid dubbed 2012 DA14 is a fairly typical near-Earth asteroid. It measures some 50 metres wide, neither very large nor very small, and is probably made of stone, as opposed to metal or ice.
As per an estimate, such asteroids fly past Earth, on average, every 40 years, yet actually strikes our planet only every 1200 years or so.
In 1908, something about the size of 2012 DA14 exploded in the atmosphere above Siberia, levelling hundreds of square miles of forest.
First Published: Friday, February 15, 2013, 09:43