Asteroid 2012 DA14 Comes Within 17,000 Miles of Earth

ABC News' Ned Potter talks with Tanya Rivero.
11:58 | 02/22/13

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Transcript for Asteroid 2012 DA14 Comes Within 17,000 Miles of Earth
Hello everyone I'm Tanya -- with a live report from ABC news now that asteroid heading dangerously close to earth is about -- make its flyby at 2:25. PM eastern time. And scientists do say it is going to be a fly by and not similar to the Russian meteor shower earlier this morning. Everyone is looking to the skies for answers on that asteroid some are fearing the worst. But luckily we have our resident space expert Ned potter here to calm our nerves good afternoon -- I hope I can. Who do you and we have no doubt and that that we do wanna start that would that meteor shower in Russia this morning. There's been some information by NASA about why they think these two events are not related is that cracked well. There how I fell into a fair number of scientists who say they're that they are. 99%. Sure that these are two separate things that just happened to happen on the same day. But some of the giveaways are the and here we are looking at some of the pictures from Russia. Bomb it was early in the morning there and if you look at some of the videos people happen to catch. As. As that object was coming in it appears to be coming in from the east. The the asteroid to which has this romantic name of 2012. It's going to be coming up from the south. And so that they they are coming from different directions. Were coming up in just a couple minutes on. The asteroids closest approach it should be about 171220. Miles away at its very closest. So -- did there probably different. So this is all just disturbing coincidence on the same day but I do want to ask you. Why if we didn't see this coming. Well. There are scientists who worry about this we do have the resources we have amateur and -- professionals from numerous. More scanning the skies looking for larger objects ones we need to -- about. They did spots that I destroyed more than a year ago and did the calculations were able to figure out no this is not one we need to worry about. Smaller stuff though they can't see it. There is a group called the B 612 foundation they're trying to raise money. On to launch a space telescope specifically to look for objects the size of the one that the home -- -- -- this morning. I was probably about fifty feet across. Doesn't sound like a lot. -- 12100 people injured. Absolutely I was going to say meaning even if that -- to have hits let's say. 650. Miles. In another direction it would hit Moscow cracked. It might have you know we can take a little bit of comfort -- in the -- remember that now while there are seven billion of us on earth we are sort of clustered together we live in cities -- -- We live on coastlines near rivers and so forth most of the earth is oceans or -- grow our polarized caps and so forth. Nevertheless. Phone. -- you don't want something hitting the years especially. -- when you might be able to do something about it. Certainly and there's no confusion over some of the terms this morning considering that what happened in -- and that was a smaller event. -- -- known as a meteors or something like curious what is the exact difference between a meteor and meteorite and an asteroid. It's enough to make you crazy. If I remember from from grade school science -- your role -- is a small rock wandering around in space. I'm meteor is a shooting star the thing to -- you see. You -- pictures as is entering the atmosphere. A meteorite. Is what's left over. Now an asteroid to. That's a bit of bit of a different thing that's something not large enough to be a planet that's wandering around the solar system. But that's -- term that becomes interchangeable with. New York but those things you really have to worry about -- there headed toward your planet. So tell us though it isn't -- DA fourteen as a -- -- Astrid is is known as we've only known about it. For a year now -- -- been enough time to do something if it turned out that it was going to actually hit us rather than fly by. No and that's why they wish they could do more watching Tom we were we were seeing just a second ago the images that NASA is getting from from. Well this one as a computer simulation but they're also. On getting occasional pictures from. -- observatory -- Australia. Elsewhere in Asia where it's dark right now and from that asteroid is thought quite quite enough to be seen with the naked eye but can be seen with telescopes there you certainly -- -- It's moving pretty fast right now -- -- relatives -- 30000 miles an hour. But. We are really right that the point of closest approach. About now gas and it's missing. If you have. House says it right about now -- said it's the closest -- how close as it. They -- that they gave us a number 171220. Miles -- cut. Is that enough to do some. Damage in terms satellite reception cell phone reception anything like that no. And there have been cases in the last ten years objects have passed closer to us. And nobody noticed until they were on the way out well. That's scary yes that -- scary -- they're thinking is that in the future if you have like ten years' notice. Well then you can launch something in the direction -- opinion you don't have to be very dramatic about it you need to bump with a little bit. -- -- out of the way you need you need to change its speed by an inch per hour. If it's moving at 30000 miles an hour and as it circles the sun you've got ten years for it to do this. That's enough to change his past just enough that if you thought I was gonna hit the earth. Well it'll shift to an all you need is for it to miss -- hundred -- just. And because he had not not -- morbid here but it but indulge me for a moment if you would if this actually did -- If this asteroid had the earth -- -- sites and we only found out about a year ago and as you said that's enough not enough time to change the direction what went out of meant -- our planet. If if this particular asteroid had two home -- and headed toward -- -- all well we all would have been very panicky. -- would have -- and something on the order of the hydrogen bomb written. He. Certainly enough to destroy a city if one happened to be in the way. Tomorrow but for comparison. Fault there was an object of about this size. Bomb that hit in Siberia in 1908. If anybody was killed -- -- bizarre -- government did not let us know at the time. It leveled trees for fifty miles in every direction I -- -- It's called the tongue -- could be impacted and it's the one notes. The union don't idle conversation astronomers have raised over the years we're now seeing a picture or how your crater and -- -- it did that -- an Arizona. That was several thousand years ago. Nobody around us. The time that we know of to get hit by a -- So because -- these are devastating but if they don't hit a populated area they certainly not going to. Necessarily do massive damage what side is asteroid needs to hit the earth -- -- to -- a dinosaur. On us and to really just extinguish like as we -- it. The educated guess about the object that destroyed the dinosaurs. Is that it -- -- six miles across. -- and it left a crater and the remnants of which are. Homes in the Caribbean -- off the Yucatan peninsula Gulf of Mexico. And of course most of the damage it did was was not the actual impact he was that he kicked up so much ash and dust into the atmosphere. That that. Got the cloud spread all around the world changed the climate. Cooled things off plants died. Dinosaurs have nothing to eat. Well I want to reassure everyone officially DA fourteen this asteroid has passed -- her -- we're in the clear now know how to. Is there we are and -- -- quickly are there any place -- that we could've seen as with the naked guy. Com. Again this is -- that this is jargon for a for astronomers. At at its closest this was a seventh magnitude object. If you live in the mountains of Colorado you can see stars that are. Six -- into food. Venus is first magnitude. Some and often brighter. And so is so this was just a little too dim for people who see it but if you had binoculars and knew exactly where to look he might -- It isn't that how seriously are scientists taking of the danger that asteroids pose to our planet how serious are the plans are. To learn to defect deflect. It's a small chance of a big thing happening. And you multiply a small number by a big number and you get a number -- -- Gets astronomers interest. Bombs a B 612 foundation this group that I mentioned before there there are hoping to launch this telescope so that we have a few decades notice. When something the size of what came this morning. You know what little old Russian. Oh win win one of those comes upon it. There are plans and I understand also to land on an asteroid not this one but that another what does that -- There. NASA is talking about the next thing for astronauts to do try to land on an asteroid could practice for going to Mars allowed going all the way to Mars. In addition there are a couple of private companies talking about mining asteroids. They're good did they are rubbing their hands together today going. You see that one -- may be -- platinum in the air. Two rival all the -- on worth the price of platinum would go away down if we could catch that asteroid scrape a little bit of platinum often bring it back. Gavel you -- shot a lot of -- to first -- that asteroid at minus I would imagine. An old joke you can make a small fortune in -- have to spend do you want to have her hectic that's right. Well people -- in the future that. That the asteroids what might have more than just platinum is that true if if they do learn to mind them or is it just platinum at their most interest events well. Platinum -- expensive -- of events -- comes up first. Actually a lot of asteroids rocky asteroids probably a -- in the -- doesn't sound very -- thing until you think of what ice is made of hydrogen and oxygen. You can split those up and it's. The -- of the big orange tank code on the space shuttles yes bottom half held liquid hydrogen top have spilled liquid oxygen. Mix them together you know pretty powerful -- you've got rocket fuel waiting in space for -- -- ago now that now that this asteroid has come and gone is there another one on the horizon that scientists are worried about. There are probably. Tons of them -- and tons of small ones entering the atmosphere every day burning up in the atmosphere they're harmless. Our -- are however. Several hundred. That some NASA. Has has spotted and nose to track. Has decided that -- -- that the moments on a collision course with us any time in the foreseeable future -- leads into this century. But they want to know about smaller ones. While Ned potter thank you so much you very credibly held our hands through that. Nail biting comments and we are in the clear thanks so much for all your expertise.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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