There is much buzz about asteroid 2012 DA14, which is set to closely pass Earth next February but won't hit it. Even though NASA has said that the asteroid is not going to slam into Earth, doomsday sayers are still somewhat in a panic because the near-Earth asteroid is passing our planet too closely.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 will come closer to our planet on Feb. 15, 2013 than many orbiting satellites, about 17,000 miles away. The near-Earth asteroid, discovered last month by astronomers at La Sagra Observatory in Spain, is said to be about 150 feet across (45 meters). Asteroid 2012 DA14's patha round the sun is similar to the Earth's. It also makes relatively close approaches to Earth twice per orbit.
The near-Earth asteroid is not the first space object to send doomsayers into a panic.
In fact, Space.com reported that Don Yeomans, head of the Near-Earth Object Observations Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that the increase in asteroid panic is because of two things.
One problem is that the Internet is wide open to anyone to say anything, Yeomans told Life's Little Mysteries, SPACE.com's sister site.
He added that in the past, claims about asteroids were written by scientists and submitted to peer-reviewed journals. Yeomans said that is a critical process that would normally filter out nonsense.
If something was published, it was reliable, he said.
Here are other space objects that have caused panic among doomsayers.
- Asteroid 2011 AG5: This huge rock was discovered last year and many believe that it could hit Earth in 2040. It is about 460 feet (140 meters) wide. Asteroid 2011 AG5 circles the sun on a path between the orbits Mars and Venus, according to Space.com. However, NASA said it is extremely remote that this rock will be any danger to Earth.
- Asteroid 2005 YU55: Last March, NASA reported that this near-Earth asteroid would make its closest approach to Earth on Nov. 8, 2011. 2005 YU55 is about 1,300 feet (400 meters) wide, which means it is a big as an aircraft carrier. It also laps around the sun once every 15 months. Many feared that this huge asteroid would hit Earth, but NASA noted that was not going to happen and added that the space agency has a pretty good idea about its orbit for the nexst 100 years.
- Elenin: This comet sparked fear among doomsday believers last year when strolled through the inner solar system. Elenin was three to five kilometers wide and made its closest approach to Earth last Oct. 16. Some said that the comet would have caused earthquakes and tsunamis, but Elenin was far removed from our planet at 22 million miles (35.4 million kilometers) basically in crumbs.
Learn more about future and past near-Earth objects here.