NewsNational News


Will the asteroid affect cell phone service?

Posted at 4:29 PM, Feb 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-14 16:39:05-05

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

(CNN) — The likely answer to all of your doomsday-ish questions about the asteroid is NO.

NASA scientists have repeatedly said that it is not possible for the asteroid approaching Friday to hit the Earth. But what about communication satellites?

On the asteroid’s approach it will “enter and exit a ring of satellites approximately 22,300 miles above the Earth,” said CNN meteorologist Sean Morris. According to current modeling of the asteroid’s path, it will probably not affect the satellites.

These satellites include those used by television networks, cell phone services and weather services.

“Scientists have determined that it is very unlikely — but not impossible — that television signals, any other form of communication, or any weather data will be impacted by the asteroid,” Morris said.

As for global positioning satellites, which communicate with the GPS function on smartphones, the asteroid will pass about 5,000 miles above them and probably won’t interfere with navigational systems.

Objects as large as basketballs, with paths even more difficult to track than the asteroid approaching Friday, pass through the same area every day and don’t cause a disturbance.

The asteroid, measuring 150 feet across and weighing 130,000 metric tons, will be 17,200 miles from Earth at its closest proximity. Its speed will be about 4.8 miles per second.

The Space Data Association has said that none of the spacecraft it monitors will be impacted, Morris said.