An asteroid about half the size of a football field will pass nearer to Earth than any other known object of its size today at 2:24pm EST/19:24 GMT. This rare case will allow scientists to study an asteroid without launching a probe.
The asteroid, named 2012 DA14, will pass about 27,520 km above the planet travelling at 13 km per second, which means that it will be nearer than the networks of television and weather satellites that ring the planet.
According to scientists, there is no chance of an impact, today or in the future. After today's encounter with the Earth, DA14 will change its orbit, explained astronomer Donald Yeomans, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
"The close approach will perturb its orbit so that actually instead of having an orbital period of one year, it'll lose a couple of months," Yeomans said. "The Earth is going to put this one in an orbit that is considerably safer," he said.
Scientists will have the possibility to study asteroids' minerals, its spin rate and collect useful information to know possible future “visits”, as well as to develop techniques to impede more threatening asteroids.
NASA plans a half-hour broadcast beginning at 2pm EST/19:00 GMT on NASA Television and on its website which will include near real-time views from Australian observatories.
This event will take place just few hours after a shower of meteorites caused panic in Russia. However, according to Professor Ian Crawford of Birkbeck University, it is too early to confirm that this incident is connected to the asteroid passing by the earth tonight.
He added that with all the videos that are coming out from Russia that it would be "possible to reconstruct the orbit" and work out if the meteorite and asteroid 2012 DA14 were connected.
According to Meteorwatch, the asteroid “will be visible from the UK and most of Europe from roughly 20:00 GMT if there are clear skies.” But binoculars or a small telescope are needed to watch it clearly, they said.
If you want to know more about the asteroid 2012 DA14 watch the video attached below: