Asteroid Passing Earth Thursday Won't Hit Us-Yet

The 2012 TC4 asteroid has only been observed once

The 2012 TC4 asteroid has only been observed once

"We know today that it will also not hit the Earth in the year 2050, but the close flyby in 2050 might deflect the asteroid such that it could hit the Earth in the year 2079", said Rüdiger Jehn of the European Space Agency's Near-Earth Object programme in the Netherlands.

The asteroid was spotted five years ago as it passed by Earth at about double the distance it is expected to approach us on Thursday.

It will fly by on October 12 at one eighth of the distance between Earth and the moon, and about 30 per cent further away than geosynchronous satellites. This encounter will be used by asteroid trackers around the world to test their ability to operate as a coordinated International Asteroid Warning Network. The asteroid is marked with a circle for a better identification.

The space body is about 30-100 feet (10-30 metres) in size.

The asteroid drifted out of range of the asteroid-tracking telescopes shortly after it was detected.

Based on the observations asteroid trackers were able to make in 2012, they predicted that it should come back into view in the fall of 2017.

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Called 2012 TC4, the asteroid will pass by Earth at an altitude of less than 44,000 km, just above the 36,000 km level where hundreds of satellites orbit the Earth.

Meanwhile, this asteroid which is nearly the size of a house will pass somewhere between 18,000-40,000 kilometers of the Earth's surface, just inside the space where geostationary satellites orbit in general.

Though this is an extremely close approach of TC4, the astronomers have assured that the asteroid won't pose any threat to life.

Scientists will use the close flyby of 2012 TC4 as an opportunity to test out their planetary defense system, in preparation for a real asteroid threat.

"This is a team effort that involves more than a dozen observatories, universities and labs across the globe so we can collectively learn the strengths and limitations of our near-Earth object (NEO) observation capabilities", said Professor Vishnu Reddy of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson.

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