CLEVELAND - It weighs 150 tons and is about the size of your nearest Target store. It's about to slice through space between Earth and the orbit of our satellites.
We're talking about Asteroid DA 14, which will make one of the closest passes to Earth ever observed by modern science. DA 14 will skirt by Earth at a mere 17,200 away on Thursday, Feb. 15. The small piece of space rock is about 40 meters wide or about half the size of a football field.
So, is Earth in any danger of a collision? According to scientists, the answer is no.
"NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office can accurately predict the asteroid's path with the observations obtained, and it is therefore known that there is no chance that the asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth," officials at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., wrote in a statement last Friday.
DA 14 was discovered in February 2012 and its behavior has been monitored closely ever since. According to Space.com, Asteroid DA will be just 1/13th as far from Earth as the moon is on Feb. 15. It will speed by at a dizzying 17,400 mph. The asteroid won't be this close to our planet again for at least another 30 years.
Scientists are very excited about the February encounter. The flyby creates a unique opportunity for researchers to observe and learn more about asteroids. As for the average sky watchers, DA 14 will be visible to telescopes in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia.
Just for conversation, what would happen if DA 14 would hit Earth? Scientists say damage on a local scale would be considerable. It would be similar to the asteroid that exploded over Russia back in 1908. That blast destroyed the forests over an 800-square mile area near Tunguska River, Siberia.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Click on the region names in the map below to see news from that region.
Things To Do
RIGHT NOW: Top Stories
The weather forecast is looking nice and cool as we start the work week. Warmer afternoon highs on the way by Wednesday.
The Peoria Police Department is using volunteers to help cut back on holiday crime by handing out report cards in busy parking lots.
So much for that sore right elbow. Carson Palmer didn't throw a pass in practice all last week, then completed practically every one he tried Sunday.
The Newlyweds are accused of luring the man through a "companionship" ad on Craigslist, and stabbing and strangling him to death.
Dozens of entries with hundreds of thousands of lights brightened the streets of Phoenix Saturday when the APS Fiesta of Light Electric Light Parade returned for the 27th straight year.