Discovered during last year’s flyby by astronomers at the La Sagra Sky Survey program in southern Spain, the asteroid is estimated to be about 45 meters in diameter with a mass of about 190,000 metric tons. At its nearest point — set to occur at 2:24 p.m. EST (19:24 UTC) – it will pass about 27,700 km (17,200 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
Although the object will pass beneath the orbits of geosynchronous satellites circling 35,800 km (22,200 mi) above the equator), it will still be well above the International Space Station and the majority of satellites.
Traveling at a speed of 17,400 mph (7.8 km/s) relative to Earth in a south-to-north direction, the asteroid will be too faint to be seen with the naked eye, but should be visible with a good set of binoculars or a small telescope.
The best viewing location during the closest approach will be Indonesia, where the asteroid will be seen to move at a rate of almost 1 degree per minute against the background of the night sky. Skywatchers in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia should also be able to see the asteroid near the time of its closest approach.
At the time of its discovery in 2012, the asteroid had just passed by Earth at a distance about seven times farther than Earth is to the moon. Since then, DA14′s orbital period around the sun has been about 368 days, which is very similar to Earth’s.
This year’s flyby is the closest the asteroid will come for at least three decades, but Friday’s encounter with Earth’s gravity will shorten its orbital period to about 317 days; thus future close approaches will follow a different pattern.
On average, astronomers expect an object of this size to get this close to Earth about once every 40 years. An actual collision with Earth by an object of this size would be expected much less frequently — or about once every 1,200 years, on average.
Streaming Coverage of the Flyby
NASA plans to provide live, streaming coverage of the flyby at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2. The half-hour broadcast, beginning at 2 PM EST will include commentary, animations and, weather permitting, views of the asteroid from observatories in Australia.
In addition, near real-time imagery of the asteroid before and after its closest approach will be streamed beginning sometime around noon EST and continuing through the afternoon at http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2.
A 3-hour Ustream feed of the flyby from a telescope at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will be available beginning at 9 PM EST. To watch the feed and ask researchers questions about the flyby via Twitter, visit http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc.
To learn more about asteroids and near-Earth objects, visit: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch.