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SPACE 15 Feb 2013 Asteroid 2012 DA14 on near-miss Earth path
Asteroid 2012 DA14 passes by Earth on Feb 15, closer just 14,913 miles away – closer than many of the satellites circling the planet. Thoug

February 15, 2013 - NULL

SPACE 15 Feb 2013 Asteroid 2012 DA14 on near-miss Earth path
Asteroid 2012 DA14 passes by Earth on Feb 15, closer just 14,913 miles away - closer than many of the satellites circling the planet. Though measuring just 147 feet and not quite visible to the naked eye, it will offer talking points for the proponents and opponents of a plan announced in April to explore Space for near earth objects that could be mined for valuable minerals. The core issue is property rights in Space: the 1967 Outer Space Treaty bans them, but there appears to be a legal

SPACE 15 Feb 2013 Asteroid 2012 DA14 on near-miss Earth path
Asteroid 2012 DA14 passes by Earth on Feb 15, closer just 14,913 miles away - closer than many of the satellites circling the planet. Though measuring just 147 feet and not quite visible to the naked eye, it will offer talking points for the proponents and opponents of a plan announced in April to explore Space for near earth objects that could be mined for valuable minerals. The core issue is property rights in Space: the 1967 Outer Space Treaty bans them, but there appears to be a legal black hole in the pact.

Film Director James Cameron and Google founders Larry Page and Eric Schmidt are among the backers of the new asteroid-mining company, Planetary Resources. Reporting on the venture, Wired News notes that Article II of the pact reads: "Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means." Proponents of the venture are arguing that because Article II only applies to nations, individuals are free to claim chunks of the solar system.

Planetary Resources' technical challenges will be matched by its legal challenges -- should the venture proceed past the talking phase.

2012 DA14 was discovered by the LaSagra observatory in southern Spain, according to NASA, which goes on to state that it "will pass inside the geosynchronous satellite ring, located about 35,800 km above the equator. Its orbit about the sun can bring it no closer to the Earth's surface than 3.2 Earth radii on February 15, 2013. . . . About 4 minutes after its Earth close approach, there is a good chance it will pass into the Earth's shadow for about 18 minutes or so before reappearing from the eclipse. When traveling rapidly into the northern morning sky, 2012 DA14 will quickly fade in brightness." (WRITTEN MAY 2012)

RELATED READING:

Space Law: Is Asteroid Mining Legal? (Wired News 1 May 2012)
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/05/opinion-asteroid-mining/

Near-Earth Asteroid 2012 DA14 to Miss Earth on February 15, 2013 (NASA)
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news174.html

Mining Asteroids - A New Industry
http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Mining_Asteroids_A_New_Industry_999.html

Date written/update: 2013-02-15