February 15, 2013
For eons, Earth has felt the tremors of asteroids striking our planet. From the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago to the felled forests around Tunguska in 1908, the space rocks keep coming.
This week, Earth strikes back. When asteroid 2012 DA14 makes a record close approach to our planet on Feb. 15th, the space rock could be the one feeling tremors.
New research by Richard Binzel, a professor of planetary science at MIT, suggests that many near-Earth asteroids experience a seismic jolt when they pass too close to our planet’s gravitational field.
“We are going to be looking closely for evidence of seismic activity on 2012 DA14 as it passes by,” says Binzel. “This is the first case of an object coming close enough to experience quakes AND where we have enough notice to plan observations.”
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