Meteors over the Urals. Image Source: Gazeta.ru.
Reports today state that asteroid 2012 DA14 will nearly graze the earth and will be visible everywhere except North and South America:
Space rock 2012 DA14 is only 50 metres across. It will pass the Earth on Friday evening (UK time) just 17,100 miles above our heads. There is no danger of a collision. Nevertheless, this is closer to the Earth than many artificial satellites. It will pass from the southern to northern hemisphere and set the record for the closest pass of any known asteroid since systematic surveys of the sky began in the mid-1990s.
The celestial mining corp Deep Space Industries claims that the asteroid is worth USD $195 billion, but they won't be going after it:
The company has no plans to go after 2012 DA14; the asteroid's orbit is highly tilted relative to Earth, making it too difficult to chase down. But the space rock's close flyby serves to illustrate the wealth of asteroid resources just waiting to be extracted and used, Deep Space officials said. [Deep Space Industries' Asteroid-Mining Vision in Photos]
"While this week's visitor isn't going the right way for us to harvest it, there will be others that are, and we want to be ready when they arrive," Deep Space chairman Rick Tumlinson said in a statement Tuesday (Feb. 12).
Deep Space Industries wants to use asteroid resources to help humanity expand its footprint out into the solar system. The company plans to convert space rock water into rocket fuel, which would be used to top up the tanks of off-Earth satellites and spaceships cheaply and efficiently.
Asteroid mining: Chasing the almighty dollar. Image Source: Deep Space Industries via Space.com.
In addition, an alarming (apparently unrelated) meteoroid falling over the Ural Mountains rocked the town of Chelyabinsk in Russia over the past 24 hours. The meteor blew out windows merely by the sheer force of passing across the sky (see more videos here). Guardian:
The Guardian reports that more than 1,000 people were injured, mainly by flying glass. Conspiracy theories are never far behind, as usual:Infrasound data collected by a network designed to watch for nuclear weapons testing suggests that today's blast [in Russia] released hundreds of kilotonnes of energy. That would make it far more powerful than the nuclear weapon tested by North Korea just days ago and the largest rock crashing on the planet since a meteor broke up over Siberia's Tunguska river in 1908. "It was a very, very powerful event," says Margaret Campbell-Brown, an astronomer at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, who has studied data from two infrasound stations near the impact site. Her calculations show that the meteoroid was approximately 15 metres across when it entered the atmosphere, and put its mass at around 40 tonnes. "That would make it the biggest object recorded to hit the Earth since Tunguska," she says.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, long-term leader of Russia's far right parliamentary bloc, claimed the meteor was not a cosmic event but something more sinister, my colleague Mark Rice-Oxley reports. Zhirinovsky said: "It is not meteors falling, it's the Americans testing a new weapon. [Secretary of state John] Kerry warned [foreign minister Sergei] Lavrov on Monday ... that there would be such a provocation and that it might affect Russia."
Video Source: RT.
Video Source: Youtube.
Video Source: Youtube via LiveJournal.
Video Source: Youtube via LiveJournal.
Landing site of meteoroid fragment debris. Below, windows blown out by the force of meteors passing and landing. Images (above and below) Source: Chelyabinsk.ru via LiveJournal.
- Russian meteoroid was actually a small asteroid from belt between Mars and Jupiter
- Larger 'chunk' related to Russian meteroid due over Pacific Ocean later on 15 February 2013
- Shooting Star across San Francisco 2/15/2013 7:44PM (local time)