A house-sized asteroid will zoom past the Earth in October

Cesar Mills
August 11, 2017

The 44,000km distance between us on Earth and the asteroid is an eighth of the distance between our planet and the Moon.

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. Scientists say the friendly neighbor will be flying by just far enough to miss geostationary satellites.

Luckily, it looks that humanity will live to fight another day because the asteroid will not whack into our planet.

"It's damn close", said Rolf Densing, who heads up the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

Dubbed 2012 TC4, the asteroid first passed the Earth in 2012, when it was nearly twice as far away as it will be this year before disappearing off on its galactic path.

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"This is the flawless target for such an exercise because while we know the orbit of 2012 TC4 well enough to be absolutely certain it will not impact Earth, we haven't established its exact path just yet", said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. However, with the help of Chile's Very Large Telescope, they've managed to track down and calculate the rock's really not-great-enough-for-comfort distance.

"The farthest satellites are 36,000 kilometers out, so this is indeed a close miss", he told AFP, adding it was nothing to lose sleep over. The 2012 TC4 Observing Campaign is part of a larger global initiative led by NASA.

A 40-metre space rock that was slightly bigger than TC4 caused the largest Earth impact in recent history when it exploded over Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908.

An asteroid measuring between 49 and 98 feet wide will pass within a few thousand miles of Earth on October 12, according to NASA scientists.

If an object the size of TC4 were to enter Earth's atmosphere, "it would have a similar effect to the Chelyabinsk event", ESA said.

Other reports by GizPress

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