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Curious About This Friday’s FLYBY of ASTEROID 2012 DA14? Our SPACE GEEK Team Is Standing By!

Chicken Little, the Sky Is NOT Falling!

February 13, 2013



This just in––asteroid 2012 DA-14 is not expected to crash into the earth! We suggest you check out the Fleet’s offerings explaining it all––our new exhibition Great Balls of Fire! Comets, Meteors, Asteroids & planetarium film Cosmic Collisions. Learn all about near-earth objects through hands-on interactive exploration!


On February 15, asteroid 2012 DA14, about half the size of a football field, will fly past Earth only 17,200 miles above our planet's surface, passing within the moon’s distance from Earth, closer than the orbits of geosynchronous satellites. The small piece of space rock weighs 150 tons and will speed by at a dizzying 17,400 mph. On the day it passes, most of us won’t see it or be aware of its passage in any way. The asteroid won’t alter the tides. It won’t cause volcanoes. It’ll just sweep closely past us—as millions of asteroids have done throughout Earth’s four-and-a-half-billion-year history—some in your own lifetime. But, as always, there are legions of disaster websites making claims that the earth is coming to an end. Again.  For more real info, go to http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/28jan_2012da/.


Dr. Don Yeomans, manager of the NASA Near Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program at JPL, is also one of the developers of our new exhibition, Great Balls Of Fire! Comets, Meteors, Asteroids–– and knows a lot about the subject. NEOO detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes, then plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet. Princeton University Press just published his book Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us.  A short video by Dr. Yeomans is on the JPL home page http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/, also at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eja3JANJ8HM.   At this time, Dr. Yeomans is in Vienna attending a meeting of a U.N. Subcommittee to discuss the international responses to Earth threatening asteroids. 


Fleet Resident Astronomer  Dr. Lisa Will and our own astronomy guru John Young are both available for phone and in-person interviews. 

Dr. Lisa Will co-creates (with Mr. Young) and narrates our monthly live planetarium show The Sky Tonight, and mentioned this asteroid during last week’s presentation.  She would be happy to help you find out more info about it to share with the public.  Dr. Will is Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy; Department of Physical Sciences at San Diego City College since 2007. Her prior positions include on the Residential Faculty, Physical Sciences Department Mesa Community College, Mesa, AZ 2000 – 2007, as Visiting Faculty, Department of Physics & School of Earth and Space Exploration Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 2000 – 2008, Dr. Will has a Ph.D. in Physics from Arizona State University, 2000 and a B.S. in Astrophysics from University of California, Los Angeles, 1993.  She is available Wednesday afternoon and on Friday (2/15) with advance notice.

John Young has added the ability to demonstrate the DA-14 fly-by to the Uniview system, and can show this either in the Heikoff Giant Dome Theater on the studio production system. He has also created an animated video of the encounter: http://youtu.be/zia1UlcpcIg

John’s newest planetarium short “Comets” plays daily before our spectacular digital film Cosmic Collisions, which addresses these universal forces of nature and the significant effect these messengers from space have had on Earth’s history. Experience Great Balls of Fire! Comets, Meteors, Asteroids to explore the recent discoveries and cutting-edge science relating to these mysterious space rocks through hands-on activities, computer-based interactives, meteorite specimens, scale models and Asteroid Encounter, an immersive audio-visual experience! See for yourself why the apocalyptic people have got it so wrong again.


When:            Friday, February 15


Where:          Visible to telescopes in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia


Note              Call Susan NOW to arrange an interview with Dr. Lisa Will or John Young, our intrepid Space Geek Team!


And come find out lots of answers for yourself:


GREAT BALLS OF FIRE! Comets, Asteroids, Meteors is the West Coast debut of a new exhibition! The threat of a catastrophic impact from an asteroid or comet is a staple of popular culture. If there was a dinosaur-killer in Earth’s past, will humankind suffer the same fate? What are the chances and how do we assess the risks? For that matter, what are asteroids, comets and meteorites, and where do they come from? Have you ever wondered about the origins of comets, asteroids and meteors?  Or what they can tell us about Earth? GREAT BALLS OF FIRE! Comets, Asteroids, Meteors explores recent discoveries and cutting-edge science relating to these mysterious space rocks through hands-on activities, computer-based interactives, meteorite specimens, scale models and Asteroid Encounter, an immersive audio-visual experience!  January 19––April 28, 2013  (See attached press release & backgrounder for more info on all the cool things you can learn in person!)


Cosmic Collisions is a spectacular immersive digital theater experience narrated by award-winning actor, director and producer Robert Redford. Featuring stunning images from space and breathtaking visualizations based on cutting-edge scientific data, it reveals the unimaginable, explosive encounters that shaped our solar system, changed the course of life on Earth and continue to transform our galaxy and dynamic universe. From subatomic particles to the largest galaxies, cosmic collisions are a universal force of nature. This new digital show offers an unprecedented and extraordinary view of the hypersonic events—both catastrophic and constructive—that have shaped our world and our universe.



Here are some NASA resources to help you out:

NASA TV will carry live commentary starting at 11 a.m. Pacific on Friday January 15

The NASA TV daily schedule is at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/MM_NTV_Breaking.html

All NASA Television Channels (Public, Media and Education) are available on Satellite AMC-18C.

NASA TV is also carried on U-stream (http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html)

Keep checking the JPL home page for additional info. 

Also see http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/28jan_2012da/

Eyes on the Solar System is a web-based program that allows you to explore the solar system from various vantage points, and currently has a feature on 2012 DA14:  http://eyes.nasa.gov/

For complete downlink information for Satellite AMC-18C please see “Important Information” at: www.nasa.gov/ntv


An additional resource for information about the DA14 fly-by is the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission website. The website posts a news story about the DA14 fly-by, One Close Fly-by: DA14 - What We Learn from NEOs, with links including a video, OSIRIS-REx Targets NEO. Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator, will be discussing the DA14 fly-by on Friday, February 15 with local TV stations around the country.  See osiris-rex.lpl.arizona.edu. The link directly to the video, OSIRIS-REx Targets NEO, is http://youtu.be/vizv4HlemnQ.

An additional resource is the story, New NASA Mission to Help US Better Estimate Asteroid Impact Hazard, at http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/osiris-rex-security.html.


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About the Fleet Science Center:

The Fleet Science Center connects people of all ages to the possibilities and power of science to create a better future. At the science center, you can explore and investigate more than 100 interactive exhibits that pique your curiosity and become immersed in an IMAX film adventure that shows the wonders of the planet--and beyond--in the Eugene Heikoff and Marilyn Jacobs Heikoff Giant Dome Theater. For young science enthusiasts, the Fleet offers science workshops both at the Fleet and at schools throughout San Diego County. For adults, we offer events like Suds & Science and Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar™ at locations all over San Diego. We support communities by leveraging science resources to meet local needs. Teachers are encouraged to join our Teacher Partner Program and take advantage of our professional development opportunities. Additionally, at the Fleet Science Center, visitors will find unique educational toys and games, books, IMAX DVDs and more in the North Star Science Store, and pizzas, sandwiches, salads and healthy treats in our Craveology cafe. Located in Balboa Park, at 1875 El Prado, two blocks south of the San Diego Zoo on Park Blvd., the Fleet is San Diego's science center. Science starts here and opens a world of possibility. For information regarding current admission prices, visit our website at fleetscience.org.
About Balboa Park:
Located near downtown San Diego, Balboa Park is the largest urbancultural park in the United States. First established by the City of San Diego in 1868, it is also one of the oldest city parks in the nation and is the most visited single destination in San Diego. Its 1,200 acres include 17 museums, many gardens and attractions, the San Diego Zoo, miles of hiking trails, and multiple athletic complexes to explore and discover. For more information, visit balboapark.org.

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