Today’s asteroid ‘fly-by’ will – experts say – not hit the Earth, but there were worries that its flight path would risk hitting orbiting satellites in the all-important Clarke Belt, named after Arthur C Clarke. The chunk of space rock will pass from the Earth’s southern to northern hemisphere and pass the planet at about 17,100 miles high.
A statement made by the Space Data Association said that none of its members’ satellites, which includes orbiting GPS craft, would be impacted. The Clarke Belt is occupied by satellites owned by SES, Intelsat, Eutelsat, Arabsat, EchoStar, Inmarsat and others.
“For reference, satellite operators are normally concerned with uncoordinated flybys of less than 10 kilometres,” the SDA said in a statement. However, the asteroid would still pass within 1000 kilometres of some satellites.
T.S. Kelso, operations manager of the SDA’s automated Space Data Center, said in a statement that “of all the ways for an asteroid to pass between Earth and the geostationary belt, we are fortunate that 2012 DA14 will follow one of the safest possible routes.”