This NASA diagram depicting the passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013
The people of Earth are not doing enough to protect their home planet from the threat of an asteroid impact, scientists said today (Feb. 5) as they track a space rock slated to make a close shave next week.
The asteroid due to pass exceptionally close to Earth on Feb. 15 — called 2012 DA14 — was discovered only last year by amateur astronomers with the help of a grant from a non-profit agency. While asteroid 2012 DA14 poses no risk of hitting Earth, there are likely hundreds of thousands more rocks like it out there, its discoverers said.
"We live in a cosmic shooting gallery and it's a reminder that we need to keep doing our work to find these things and to prevent the only preventable natural disaster, which is asteroid impact," said Bruce Betts, a planetary scientist at the Planetary Society, the non-profit space research and exploration organization that helped sponsor the discovery of asteroid 2012 DA14.