A very large telescope in Chile has been tracking an asteroid the size of a house that is on its way toward Earth. The Asteroid is named 2012 TC4 and it is slated to wiz by Earth on October 12. As far as asteroids go, the path it is on won’t leave a lot of room between this space rock and the planet you call home.
The asteroid was tracked a few years back, but it disappeared in 2012 only to reappear again this year as it makes its way for what the Daily Mail calls a “close shave” with Earth next week. It is the scientists who have deemed the path of this asteroid as coming “damn close” to Earth, reports the Daily Mail. That “damn close” equals out to about 27,000 miles from Earth, give or take a few miles.
While this asteroid is not the size of a state or even a city, it is estimated to be about 100-feet wide. Scientists calculate that asteroid 2012 TC4 will fly by at just “one-eighth of the distance between Earth and the moon, making it a rather close call in comparison to previous asteroids that have made an appearance near the planet.
This same asteroid flew by Earth in 2012 at about twice the distance away from the planet than this next fly-by is expected to be. Using the telescope in Chile, scientists were able to track down the asteroid last month and they’ve kept an eye on the house-size rock to calculate just how close it will come this time around.
While it is a bit eerie for some people to have a report from the experts that deem an asteroid on a course that will bring it “damn close” to this planet, it is exciting for the scientists who will be able to gather data. NASA is expected to take the opportunity to test their observatories in the network setup as a defense system when this celestial hunk of rock passes by the earth.
It sounds as if the estimates for the close call have grown to better odds in last month or so. Last month NBC News reported that the asteroid is expected to wiz by at 4,200 miles above the Earth, the same report was coming from the Daily Mail this summer as well, as seen below in the Twitter post. Today that distance has grown to a more comfortable 27,000 miles.
According to NBC News last month, NASA is preparing to test their defense system with the approach of October’s near-miss asteroid. The drills have been previously carried out under the scenario of a fake asteroid approaching but this time they have the real deal on the way.
That defense system is in place just on the outside chance an asteroid does hit Earth. Dr. Michael Kelley, a scientist working on the NASA TC4 observation campaign said, “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 they possibly can.”
Scientists did expect the asteroid to make a near miss with Earth this year, but since tracking the asteroid from Chile this summer using the “European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope,” they calculate the path of that asteroid will bring that house-size rock not much closer than 27,000 miles.
[Featured Image by Oliver Denker/Shutterstock]