WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | News

Watch the skies: Asteroid speeding toward Earth

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- There's an asteroid zipping through space, getting ready for a close encounter with Earth.

Simulation video from NASA shows Asteroid 2012 DA-14 going at top speed toward our planet.

But before you panic, NASA is assuring all that the asteroid will miss Earth on February 15th.

“It was about a week ago when it was first noticed,” said Lyle Ford, a physics and astronomy professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Ford said based on its path, scientists can be certain the asteroid won't slam into us.

“An object of this size probably passes impacts Earth maybe every 100, maybe thousand years or so. This asteroid will come within 18,000 miles of the surface of the Earth. That's closer than communication satellites. This is closest one we've seen coming in that's ever been noticed,” Ford said.

The asteroid is heading our way at 17,450 miles per hour and is 50 meters wide, half the size of a football field.

“If it were to hit Eau Claire it would wipe it out,” Ford said.

Although the space rock will fly by satellites, earthlings probably won't notice its visit next Friday.

“When it’s closest to the earth it will be 1:30 here, middle of the day and by the time it gets dark it will be too dim for us to see,” Ford said.

The close encounter has some buzzing about the "what ifs".

“Who knows what kind of damage it would do, hopefully that’s enough time to get people evacuated from the area,” said Kayla Vandenlangenberg.

“You can look back on your life and see how good it was. Give a week of reflection I guess,” said Christopher Greene.

“It would be a cool way to go out, right? Big Asteroid coming at you,” said Josh Solomon.

We’re safe now, but it may just be a matter of time before the big one.

“Are we talking 1 million years? 100 years? Within 1 million years we're going to be hit by something,” Ford said.


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