Google never ceases to create wonder doodles, whatever be the ocassion. Its doodle for today is easy to miss, for at first sight it just appears to be the Google homepage on any normal day – that is, unless you spot the unusual looking logo. Soon after, you can spot the second “g” in the words “Google” jumping with a shreik and just as you wonder what it is, you see a piece of rock coming in its direction and soon know that the “g” moved away to escape the collision with the rock. Once the rock has passed, the “g” hops its way back to its original position.
Now, if you’ve read about the small near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 having a close shave with our home planet Earth, on February 15, you will know what Google’s doodle is all about. This asteroid will be flying very close to Earth; so close that it will pass inside the ring of geosynchronous weather and communications satellites. Now, while experts at NASA have confirmed that there is no chance of this asteroid colliding with Earth; the mere fact that the Earth will have a near-miss makes it for an exciting phenomenon.
Asteroid 2012 DA14's Google 'near miss'
Just to add some more perspective to the 2012 DA14 asteroid, a post on NASA's official website adds that the asteroid is about 150 feet (45 meters) in diameter. It is expected to fly about 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) above Earth's surface at the time of its closest approach, which is about 11:25 a.m. PST (2:25 p.m. EST) on February 15. Interestingly, this distance is sufficiently away from Earth and the several low Earth-orbiting satellites, including the International Space Station, but it is inside the belt of satellites in geostationary orbit (about 22,200 miles, or 35,800 kilometers, above Earth's surface.)
What makes this phenomenon interesting is that the flyby of 2012 DA14 is the closest-ever predicted approach to Earth for an object this large.
The NASA post adds, “Like trailers for the coming attraction, new images show asteroid 2012 DA14 on its way to a record-close approach to Earth on Feb. 15. One image, taken by amateur astronomer Dave Herald of Murrumbateman, Australia, on Feb. 13, shows the asteroid as a tiny white dot in the field of view. Another set of animated images, obtained by the Faulkes Telescope South in Siding Springs, Australia, on Feb. 14, and animated by the Remanzacco Observatory in Italy, shows the asteroid as a bright spot moving across the night sky.”