Satellite Data Association: Asteroid DA14 Does Not Imperil Satellites

Satellite Data Association: Asteroid DA14 Does Not Imperil Satellites

The Space Data Association (SDA) reassured satellite operators and users yesterday that the close pass of asteroid 2012 DA14 tomorrow poses no threat to satellites.

The 150 foot (45 meter) diameter asteroid will pass by Earth at 17,150 miles (27,600 kilometers) altitude, between Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) where GPS and certain other navigation satellite constellations reside, and Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) where most communications satellites as well as other types of satellites are located.  

SDA analyzed the orbits of all the satellites in MEO and GEO that are listed in the public space catalog and concluded the asteroid “will come no closer than 1,000 km to any space object, and will not threaten any operational objects nor will it create debris in any orbit.”  SDA added that satellite operators worry only about “uncoordinated flybys of less than 10 km.”

NASA has been reassuring everyone that the asteroid poses no threat to Earth itself, either.   The asteroid’s closest approach to Earth will occur at 2:25 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) tomorrow, February 15.  Since it will be daylight in the United States, it cannot be viewed from here, although NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will provide commentary with real-time animation on NASA TV from 2:00-2:30 pm EST.

NASA has slightly refined its estimates of the altitude and time at closest approach.  Earlier it reported the time as 2:24 pm instead of 2:25 pm EST, and the altitude as 17,200 miles instead of 17,150 miles.


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