Asteroid threats overhyped: NASA

March 7, 2012

Asteroid 2012 DA14 (credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech/NEOPO)

Two asteroids in the news are generating some concern in the media.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass nearer to our planet than our satellites in geosynchronous orbit — within about 3.5 Earth radii (12,680 miles or 20,406 km) — on February 15, 2013, but no nearer, says NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). It is thought to be about 45 meters in diameter.

Asteroid 2011 AG5 (credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech/NEOPO)

Asteroid 2011 AG5 is more troubling. This 460 feet (140 meters) rock could be on an Earth-interception course in 2040. But it is currently ranked a “1″ on the 1 to 10¬†Torino Impact Hazard Scale, with¬†odds of occurring at 1-in-625, according to JPL.

“In September 2013, we have the opportunity to make additional observations of 2011 AG5 when it comes within 91 million miles (147 million kilometers) of Earth,” said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at JPL.