NASA Television will provide commentary starting at 11 a.m. Pacific Time on Friday, Feb. 15, during the close, but safe, flyby of a small near-Earth asteroid named “2012 DA14.”
NASA places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home planet from them. This flyby will provide a unique opportunity for researchers to study a near-Earth object up close.
The half-hour broadcast from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will incorporate real-time animation to show the location of the asteroid in relation to Earth, along with live or near real-time views of the asteroid from observatories in Australia, weather permitting.
At the time of its closest approach to Earth at approximately 11:25 a.m. Pacific Time, the asteroid will be about 17,150 miles (27,600 kilometers) above Earth's surface.
Measuring approximately 50 meters wide, 2012 DA14 is about half the size of a football field.
Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, astronomers have never seen an object this big come so close to our planet. The asteroid will actually pass closer to Earth than many manmade satellites.
In addition to the commentary, near real-time imagery of the asteroid's flyby before and after closest approach, made available to NASA by astronomers in Australia and Europe, weather permitting, will be streamed beginning at about 9 a.m. Pacific Time and continuing through the afternoon at http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2 .
Also, a Ustream feed of the flyby from a telescope at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will be streamed for three hours starting at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.
To view the feed and ask researchers questions about the flyby via Twitter, visit http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc .