Huge asteroid could hit Earth in 2020

Huge asteroid could hit Earth in 2020PA

A newly-discovered asteroid could come so close to Earth in February that it might hit communications satellites.

The Daily Mail reports that asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered by astronomers at the LaSagra Observatory in Spain.

Although NASA say that that the chance of it hitting Earth is just 0.031 per cent, they can't rule out the possibility that it might hit on its next fly-pass in 2020.

The exact orbital path of the asteroid is now being determined by NASA, but astronomers are concerned that it could come close enough to come into contact with a satellite.

Paul Chodas, a planetary astronomer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said: "That's very unlikely, but we can't rule it out."

He adds: "The orbit for 2012 DA14 is currently very Earth-like, which means it will be very close to Earth on a regular basis."

Although the asteroid can currently only be seen as a 'fuzzy little blob' through telescopes, it may eventually pass 21,000 miles away from Earth and might be visible to people with binoculars or a good telescope.

Astronomers now have to see how close 2012 DA14 gets to Earth in February and how much our gravitational pull affects its course for its next fly-by.

If it does hit in 2020, scientists believe that its south-bound approach means that it will hit Antarctica or the Southern Ocean.

If this happened, it would not end life on Earth but could potentially cause massive loss of life if it hit a populated part of the world.

In 1908 it is believed that a comet or asteroid exploded in the skies above Tunguska in Siberia, causing trees for hundreds of square miles to flatten horizontally.

Click on the image below to see some images from space...

Images from space by astronaut Andre Kuipers
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Huge asteroid could hit Earth in 2020

The Aurora Borealis over Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Northern Germany.

In shot is the Soyuz TMA-03M module.


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