Russian meteor unrelated to today’s close call
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — NASA scientists say the trajectory of the meteor over Russia was completely opposite of the asteroid expected to shave Earth’s orbit today, emphasizing that the pair of celestial close-calls is an unrelated coincidence.
The meteor over Russia likely exploded as it heated up from the friction generated as it encountered Earth’s atmosphere. Smaller pieces may have hit the ground as meteorites, but most of the reported damage and injuries in Siberia were the result of the pressure wave generated by the blast.
The second asteroid (DA14), will pass inside the ring of geosynchronous weather and communications satellites, but scientists say it’s unlikely the event will disrupt communications. The flyby will give researchers a unique opportunity to study a near-Earth object up close, according to this NASA web page which includes links to trajectory diagrams and more.
The flyby of 2012 DA14 is the closest-ever predicted approach to Earth for an object this large.
Astronomers around the world have already been capturing images of DA14 on its way to a record-close approach, but scientists are confident that their predicted trajectories will keep the object from hitting the planet.
Observatories around the world will cooperate to try and determine the asteroid’s rough shape, spin rate and composition — information that could help predict the path of future asteroids.
The NASA Near Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using ground- and space-based telescopes. The network of projects supported by this program, commonly called “Spaceguard,” discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them and plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.