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A little too close for comfort? A near-Earth collision for 2013
This close is too close
How close is too close?
Just how close is too close? Considering that satellites orbit at about 35,000 to 37,000 miles above the Earth, it seems that asteroid 2012 DA14 will be coming in at about 17,000 miles away. When you consider the moon is about 1/4 million miles away, so it's gravity will have no effect on the rather small asteroid, this will be the closest we have come to an extinction-event possibility since, well, the last extinction event that made oil fields and dinosaur museums possible.
End of times, or a cool light show?
If 2012 DA14 were to collide in or near a major city, that city would be wiped off of the face of the Earth. NYC, Mumbai, Tehran, Pyongyang, Ottawa, Los Angeles, South Bend or Seoul, no matter how big the city, with a perfect hit and minimal loss due to burn-off as the asteroid burns down through our last line of defense, the atmosphere, any city would be completely obliterated.
How close can they predict a collision if it were to happen?
They should be able to "pinpoint" the collision site to within a few million miles once the asteroid is about a few million miles away. At that distance, we would have about a 3 in 5 chance that satellites will be smashed, which could also alter the asteroid`s trajectory. On top of other factors that could change it`s course to make it smash into Earth, 2012 DA14 will be attracted to the Earth`s gravitational field. At a calculated width only 150 feet wide (give or take a few hundred feet), 2012 DA14 could easily be pulled into a collision.
Traveling at about 26,000 miles per hour, a speed which will increase as it is whip-lashed by other planets and moons on it's rapid attack on planet Earth, 2012 DA14, if it does collide with Earth, is expected to unleash the equivalent of a thermonuclear bomb. All Iran really has to do is find some way of controlling the exact point of impact by installing motors on the little rock and they would have control of more Hellfire than they ever imagined.
The problem is. not even the US, China, Japan. Canada and Russia could combine forces and build space vehicles quick enough that are big and powerful enough to race out far enough into space to push it off course enough if/when it does decide to collide. The idea would be to nudge the asteroid just enough so that it would avoid the Earth`s gravitational fields.
How close can they actually predict the asteroid will fly by?
Well, not that close. They (the scientists following it, NASA and a bunch of other initialed organizations) are predicting it will pass within 17,000 miles of the surface of the Earth. It happens to be over 300 days away from Earth, traveling at 26,000 miles an hour. That speed sees 2012 DA14 travel about 624,000 miles a day, making it about 200 million miles from us, give or take a few inches. That's like firing a powerful rifle in the air and predicting exactly where the bullet will land, within 2mm.
Mayans off by 3 Months?
People will be able to see the asteroid with a decent pair of binoculars, but the view won't last long. However, if it does collide with out little blue planet, third from the Sun, then the after-effects will be felt for years and possibly decades. Major dirt and silt clouds will block out the Sun, and the resulting temperature drop could change climate change. Yes, glaciers could grow for a few ears, and the permafrost may even stop encroaching in humanity so rapidly.
With all of their predictions about speeds, orbital and gravitational forces and other factors that effect 2012 DA14's trajectory and speed, how can they predict any hits with other scattered meteors, asteroids and other heavenly ricks. Any celestial rock bigger than twice the size of 2012 DA14 will have some form of gravitational pull on this asteroid, so even at 300 days away they could change it's destination by thousands of miles a day for the next 300 days. Or, they could be dead on (pun intended!)
Could this be the Mayan prediction?
It well could. After all, if the Mayans figured that the asteroid would hit the planet at excessive speeds in late 2012, why bother making the calendar ever longer? But, why the time difference? The Mayans predicted a December, 2012 extinction event, and if that were 2012 DA14, the time difference could well be attributed to a bump or two with other celestial bodies.