A House-Sized Asteroid Will Fly Unusually Close To BC Today

13 October, 2017, 01:02 | Author: Becky Perry
  • The 2012 TC4 asteroid has only been observed once

The close flight path will offer scientists "an excellent opportunity to test the global ability to detect and track near-Earth objects and assess our ability to respond together to a real asteroid threat".

In other words, if there's a real, Armageddon-style asteroid threatening Earth, expert bodies around the world will be able to detect it and hopefully be able to come up with a better plan than sending a bunch of oil drillers up in space to divert it away from sending us into oblivion.

"This campaign is a team effort that involves more than a dozen observatories, universities and labs around the globe so we can collectively learn the strengths and limitations of our near-Earth object observation capabilities", campaign leader Vishnu Reddy, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, said in a statement.

NASA said that the asteroid's distance from earth when it safely passes by will be a little over one-tenth of the distance to the moon, just above the orbital altitude of communications satellites.

Scientists had predicted that TC4 was between 10 and 30 metres (33-99 feet) wide.

"This means it must be very bright", to make it appear bigger, said Koschny.

It is roughly the same size as the meteor that caused widespread damage when it exploded in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk in central Russian Federation in 2013.

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It the blast damaged many buildings.

NASA has tested out Earth's planetary defences as Asteroid 2012 TC4 zoomed past Earth this morning.

While the Chelyabinsk event caught everyone unawares, TC4 is one of thousands of space rocks whose whereabouts are known.

The rock's closest approach will be over Antarctica at 1:42 a.m. ET on Thursday. They first spotted the approaching house sized asteroid about two months ago and, since then, they kept studying it.

Flybys like this one are actually quite common - about three objects similar in size to TC4 graze past at a similar distance every year.

Many scientists believe the Earth will once again be hit by a space rock of the size that wiped out the dinosaurs, though nobody knows when.

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