A 270-meter near-Earth asteroid with a significantly uncertain orbital trajectory will brush past Earth tomorrow, Thursday, September 24, 2015.
Asteroid 2012 TT5 is one of at least four large space rocks that will zip past Earth between September 23 and September 28, the period conspiracy theorists say an asteroid impact will cause an extinction-level event on Earth.
An asteroid the size of 2012 TT5 impacting on Earth could cause widespread destruction through earthquakes and tsunamis. The asteroid believed to have caused the June, 1908, Tunguska impact event, for instance, is estimated to have been only about 60 meters across. It wiped out an estimated 80 million trees, covering a forest area of about 2,150 square kilometers (830 sq mi), and the explosion generated a shock wave that measured at about magnitude 5.0
According to experts, a space rock in the size range of asteroid 2012 TT5 could cause “regional devastation to human settlements unprecedented in human history in the case of a land impact, or a major tsunami in the case of an ocean impact.”
Asteroid 2012 TT5 is expected to make closest approach on September 24 at a distance of about 8.33 million kilometers (4.6 million miles), equivalent to about 0.055 AU, a close brush on the astronomical scale. The distance of 0.055 AU places 2012 TT5 on the boundary of the range defined for Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) – space rocks about 150 meters or more in diameter approaching Earth at a range of 0.05 AU.
Although astronomers say that available data about 2012 TT5’s trajectory indicate that it will fly past the Earth at a distance of about 4.6 million miles, they admit a significant degree of uncertainty about the details of its orbital path.
The asteroid is assigned a “condition code” of six on a scale ranging from zero to nine — with zero representing the highest level of certainty about the orbital path of a space rock, and nine the highest level of uncertainty.
Doomsday theorists have taken advantage of the relatively high level of uncertainty about the trajectory of asteroid 2012 TT5 to predict that it is the asteroid to look out for, and that September 24 could be the day of the predicted asteroid impact apocalypse.
The asteroid impact apocalypse theory predicts that a massive asteroid will wipe out much of life on Earth in September, 2015. It originated in the prophetic pronouncements of Reverend Efrain Rodriguez, who claimed he received a revelation that an asteroid will impact Earth off the coast of Puerto Rico, triggering a massive tsunami and earthquake that will devastate the East Coast, Mexico, and Central and South America.
The rumors gained traction when conspiracy theorists interpreted the May, 2014, statement (see video below) by the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius that the world had only “500 days to avoid climate chaos” as an official admission that a “climate catastrophe” would occur in September, 2015.
Members of the biblical prophecy-inspired end time movement also bought into the hysteria generated by the asteroid impact apocalypse conspiracy theory movement following predictions by two influential end time preachers, Pastors Mark Blitz of the El Shaddai Ministry in Tacoma, Washington, and John Hagee of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, that the expected occurrence on September 28, 2015, of the last blood moon lunar eclipse of the ongoing tetrad is a sign from heaven that the end has come.
The first blood moon lunar eclipse of the ongoing tetrad of eclipses occurred on April 15, 2014; the second on October 8, 2014; and the third on April 4, 2015. The fourth will occur next week, on Monday, September 28, 2015.
However, NASA has tried to calm fears, pointing out that the agency is not aware of any “asteroid or any other celestial object that is on a trajectory that will impact Earth.”
But the agency did not directly address claims being made by conspiracy theorists that asteroid 2012 TT5 could hit Earth on September 24. Conspiracy theorists argue that the significant degree of uncertainty about the trajectory of asteroid 2012 TT5 means that it could spring a nasty surprise on experts.
For instance, an online conspiracy theorist argues, “The Asteroid name is 2012 TT5 — it is closest to the earth on September 24, 2015 — this is an astronomy fact!!But in no way as of now is it forecast to impact the earth — but objects in space are very unpredictable! Who would have thought that on January 26, 2015, we will have a very close call with a third of a mile wide asteroid named 2004 BL86?”
And despite NASA’s effort to assure that no large asteroid will impact Earth between September 22 and September 28, the agency admits that although it has discovered about 90 percent of all near-Earth objects larger than one kilometer, the remaining 10 percent of massive asteroids larger than one kilometer could pose unrealized dangers to the Earth.
At the time that the agency announced discovery of the 10,000th NEO in June, 2013, Lindley Johnson, program executive for NASA’s NEO Observations Program, admitted that only about 10 percent of the total population of NEOs had been detected.
“Finding 10,000 near-Earth objects is a significant milestone. But there are at least 10 times that many more to be found before we can be assured we will have found any and all that could impact and do significant harm to the citizens of Earth,” Johnson said.
[Images: Getty; The Weather Network]