Close Encounter with Earth Will Trigger Quakes on Asteroid 2012 DA14

The asteroid is buzzing Earth later today, you can watch it live

By on February 15th, 2013 10:33 GMT
Asteroid 2012 DA14 won't make for any movie script, but it's still the closest an asteroid this big has gotten to Earth since we've been able to spot them which means there's plenty to learn for scientists.

In fact, one of the things they are looking for are earthquakes, well, just "quakes" since they're not on our planet but on the asteroid itself.

Because it's coming so close, the Earth's gravity will have quite an impact on the football field-sized asteroid. In fact, astronomers believe that the close encounter may be enough for the asteroid to shed its weathered outer layer and leave Earth looking a lot fresher than when it came.

Asteroid quakes aren't as spectacular as you might expect, the surface may sway a few centimeters and some small avalanches may be triggered.

But given the asteroid's very low gravity, it will be enough for it to shed or at least turn over its dark outer layer, created by eons of flying through space and getting hit by cosmic rays.

The asteroid is fast approaching Earth and will be at its closest later today. It will come close enough to be visible with binoculars or a small telescope, if you know where to look. It will be moving quite fast though the sky. NASA is live streaming the whole event.

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Asteroid 2012 DA14 is flying by later today
   Asteroid 2012 DA14 is flying by later today