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An asteroid will intersect Earth's orbit on February 15, 2013 without posing any danger of collision

on 12 February 2013

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will intersect Earth's orbit on February 15, 2013 without posing any danger of collision with Earth, based on orbit calculations. Nonetheless, the asteroid will be observable even with binoculars. Through the efforts of the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA), Romania participates in European and international planetary defense programmes, while the Romanian scientific community is involved in the discovery and study of asteroids.

Discovered on February 22, 2012 at the Astronomical Observatory from La Sagra, Spain, Asteroid 2012 DA14 has a diameter of about 50-80 meters and it makes a complete revolution around the Sun in 368 days. The asteroid belongs to the category of objects that intersect Earth's orbit. As a result, on February 15, 2013 it will approach our planet again. Orbit calculations show that 2012 DA14 poses no danger of collision with Earth.
At 21:24:42 local time, the minimum distance between the Earth and the asteroid will be of 27,700 km, an altitude lower than geostationary satellites, which generally orbit at 36,000 km altitude. This proximity is a record for an object of this size and it will allow anyone who has binoculars to observe the asteroid. The apparent motion of the asteroid on the celestial sphere will be similar to that of Earth's artificial satellites. The asteroid will move from the eastern horizon towards the Pole star region. The asteroid's speed relative to Earth will be 7.8 km / sec.

Observations from professionals will allow more precise orbit determination, estimating its diameter more accurately, determining the composition, density and its internal structure. The next approach to Earth is expected to happen on February 15, 2046, at a distance of 1,500,000 km.

At the level of the European Space Agency (ESA), concerns related to monitoring asteroids with orbits that cross Earth's orbit are formalized under the programme Space Situational Awareness (SSA), to which the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) adhered. Through this programme, the European Space Agency aims to develop capabilities and gain independent access to space in order to observe natural objects and phenomena that could cause damage to Earth's artificial satellites and ground infrastructure.

The Romanian Space Agency has joined ESA’s efforts in this respect, adhering to the SSA programme. ROSA organized in Romania a series of events dedicated to this topic: "Planetary Defense Conference" (May 2011), along with the event "Future of Planetary Defense", for young people and students and the workshop "Future Small Bodies Missions: Discussing the Synergies Between" and the workshop "Space Situational Awareness - SSA "(April 2012), as well as the conference "First IAA Conference on Space Systems as Critical Infrastructures" (September 2012).

Romania can contribute to the SSA programme with data study and processing, where the Institute of Space Sciences (ISS) has experience in data analyzing, transfer and storage; with the research conducted at ISS, the Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy and the Institute of Geodynamics of the Romanian Academy; by developing instruments and infrastructure.
Contact Person:
Oana Sandu
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