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Friday Night Lights: NASA to Chronicle Close Earth Flyby of Asteroid

By April MacIntyre Feb 15, 2013, 7:43 GMT

Friday Night Lights: NASA to Chronicle Close Earth Flyby of Asteroid

Diagram depicting the passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Time to watch the sky as NASA Television will provide commentary starting at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) on Friday, Feb. 15, during the close, but safe, flyby of a small near-Earth asteroid named 2012 DA14.

From JPL:

NASA places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home planet from them. This flyby will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close.

The half-hour broadcast from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will incorporate real-time animation to show the location of the asteroid in relation to Earth, along with live or near real-time views of the asteroid from observatories in Australia, weather permitting.

At the time of its closest approach to Earth at approximately 11:25 a.m. PST (2:25 p.m. EST / 19:25 UTC), the asteroid will be about 17,150 miles (27,600 kilometers) above Earth's surface.

The commentary will be available via NASA TV and streamed live online at: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

In addition to the commentary, near real-time imagery of the asteroid's flyby before and after closest approach, made available to NASA by astronomers in Australia and Europe, weather permitting, will be streamed beginning at about 9 a.m. PST (noon EST) and continuing through the afternoon at the following website: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

A Ustream feed of the flyby from a telescope at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will be streamed for three hours starting at 6 p.m. PST (8 p.m. CST / 9 p.m. EST). To view the feed and ask researchers questions about the flyby via Twitter, visit: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc

The NASA Near Earth Objects (NEO) Program at the agency's headquarters in Washington manages and funds the search, study and monitoring of NEOs, or asteroids and comets, whose orbits periodically bring them close to the Earth. NASA's study of NEOs provides important clues to understanding the origin of our solar system. The objects also are a repository of natural resources and could become waystations for future exploration. In collaboration with other external organizations, one of the program's key goals is to search and hopefully mitigate potential NEO impacts on Earth. JPL conducts the NEO program's technical and scientific activities.

For more information, including graphics and animations showing the flyby of 2012 DA14, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/asteroidflyby

For more information about asteroids and near-Earth objects, visit: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch



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