A small asteroid will pass close to Earth in October

Gwen Vasquez
August 12, 2017

The space agency NASA says the asteroid, called 2012 TC4, "will come no closer than 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) from the surface of the Earth" and there's no chance of a direct hit on October 12.

The latest observations, made on July 27, 31, and then again on August 5, revealed 2012 TC4 will pass within one eighth of the moon's distance from the planet. Scientists say the friendly neighbor will be flying by just far enough to miss geostationary satellites.

"It's damn close", said European Space Operations Centre head Rolf Densing.

Astronomers recently spotted asteroid 2012 TC4 under a collaboration between the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) to locate faint objects that might strike Earth.

"It will not hit the Earth", said Detlef Koschny of ESA's "Near Earth Objects" research team. "There is no danger whatsoever".

"Scientists have always appreciated knowing when an asteroid will make a close approach to and safely pass the Earth because they can make preparations to collect data to characterize and learn as much as possible about it", said Michael Kelley, program scientist and NASA Headquarters lead for the TC4 observation campaign.

It measures, at most, up to 30 meters across - similar in size to the asteroid that hit Chelyabinsk in Russian Federation in 2013. Though NASA estimated the 2013 asteroid weighted roughly 7,000 tons, researchers said it detonated with a force of 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs. Also, it would likely behave very differently to the Chelyabinsk object.

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'This effort will exercise the entire system, to include the initial and follow-up observations, precise orbit determination, and worldwide communications'.

Four years ago, a meteoroid of about 20 metres exploded in the atmosphere over the city of Chelyabinsk in central Russian Federation with the kinetic energy of about 30 Hiroshima atom bombs.

But Earth's atmosphere stretches only a few hundred kilometres far, and TC4 will comfortably miss it.

The fireball measuring 18 meters across, screamed into Earth's atmosphere at 41,600 miles per hour.

A meteor described as being the size of a house is expected to have a near-miss with Earth in October.

While scientists aren't sure of its precise fly distance, they are certain it poses no risk to Earth or its satellites.

The asteroid completes an orbit around the sun every 609 days.

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