There have been plenty of stories in early 2013 about comets and the like. The latest report concerns Asteroid 2012 DA14. What's special about this asteroid? It is due to come within relatively close range of the Earth on February 15.
The odds are that sooner or later such an asteroid will make contact with Earth. It could be many years from now or it could happen tomorrow. Of course it could happen on February 15!
Thursday NASA will make an announcement. That announcement is expected to reveal that the 40m-long asteroid will pass closer to earth than any previous recorded 'near miss'. The distance has been likened as similar to that between Sydney and the USA. That may sound large but it is not in space terms.
Sky News reports, Their calculations predict Asteroid 2012 DA14 will whistle past Earth on February 15 closer than the orbit of some weather and communications satellites, speeding by at a distance of 17,000 miles (27,400km).
Worried? Well according to experts you do not need to be. Earth has been hit by closer passing asteroids in the past. Scientists are convinced that Asteroid 2012 DA14 will whizz by earth but not make contact. There are millions of these celestial rocks out there so it is odds on that Earth will be hit sometime.
Interestingly Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered by an amatuer sky-watcher. A Spanish dentist in fact. He is one of many amateurs who watch our skies and report 'the unusual' to NASA. The NASA agency reportedly relies on these amateurs almost as an early warning system.
Although this time Earth should survive unscathed some of these asteroids are called city-killers. If they were to hit a heavily populated city, for example, they would wipe it out. More wrrying though are asteroids called planet killers. Their name speaks for itself.
NASA will be closely following the path of this asteroid but so will a new breed of entrepeneurs. Asteroid mining is not be as far fetched as you may believe. Two American companies are already looking at the possibilty of mining asteroids.
Let's hope and pray that human greed does not damage the 'heavens' in the way that it has Mother Earth.