GEODSS Tracking Results on Asteroid 2012 DA14
AIR FORCE SPACE COMMAND MAUI HI 21ST OPERATIONS GROUP
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The potential effects of an asteroid passing within close proximity to the Earth were recently realized During the February 16, 2013 event, Asteroid 2012 DA14 passed within an estimated 27,700 kilometers of the earth, well within the geosynchronous GEO orbital belt. This was the closest known approach of a planetoid of this size, in modern history. The GEO belt is a region that is filled with critical communications satellites which provide relays for essential government, business and private datum. On the day of the event, optical instruments at Detachment 3, 21OG, Maui GEODSS were able to open in marginal atmospheric conditions, locate and collect metric and raw video data on the asteroid as it passed a point of heliocentric orbital propinquity to the Earth. Prior to the event, the Joint Space Operations Center JSpOC used propagated trajectory data from NASA s Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to assess potential collisions with man-made objects in Earth orbit. However, the ability to actively track this asteroid through the populated satellite belt not only allowed surveillance for possible late orbital perturbations of the asteroid, but, afforded the ability to monitor possible strikes on all other orbiting bodies of anthropogenic origin either not in orbital catalogs or not recently updated in those catalogs.
- Target Direction, Range and Position Finding