A 150-foot-wide , 140,000 tonne asteroid may come so close to Earth next year that it might destroy communications satellites.
The asteroid, DA14, discovered by astronomers at LaSagra Observatory in Spain, is estimated to come near enough to Earth on February 15, 2013, that it could disrupt geosynchronous satellites.
While Nasa have said the chance of the asteroid hitting Earth is 0.031%, if it did it would hit with the force of a 2.4 megaton explosion, similar to the mysterious Tunguska event of 1908 which levelled hundreds of square miles of Siberian forest. The asteroid’s exact orbital path is being determined by Nasa and astronomers are erring on the side of caution in case it does come in contact with a satellite.
While the asteroid is currently a ‘fuzzy little blob’ , as seen through telescopes, 2012 DA14 may eventually come to pass 33,796km away from the Earth putting synchronous satellites in the firing line, the paper said. “The orbit for 2012 DA14 is currently very Earth-like , which means it will be very close to Earth on a regular basis. The detonation of the 140,000 tonne rock would not end civilization but would potentially cause massive loss of life if it hit a populated centre.