February 19, 2018

Asteroid to buzz Earth this week

11 October 2017, 06:12 | Israel Caldwell

GETTY STOCKAsteroid 2012 TC4 was discovered in 2012 and will skim past Earth later this week


The flyby will be safe, and the asteroid, 2012 TC4, will miss Earth - but it gives NASA a chance to test its new "planetary defence system".

A small asteroid is scheduled to safely pass by Earth tomorrow at a distance of about 42,000 kilometres, allowing trackers around the world to test their ability to operate as an global asteroid warning network.

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. It was traced way back in 2012 and its one of those thousands of space rocks whose whereabouts are known. "Not even for satellites".

The asteroid, estimated to be 50 to 100 metres in size, was discovered by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) in Hawaii in 2012.

China protests over US Navy patrol in contested South China Sea waters
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying denounced the mission as risky and a violation of China's sovereignty. She also said that China already lodged a protest to the United States government.

Sky and Telescope notes its approach is close enough that the rock's orbit will get a small deviation from Earth's gravity. It wil likely return in 2050 and 2079 as it continually loops around the sun. However, experts were able to predict the nearest approach of the asteroid to earth in 2017, which became true.

Scientists found this asteroid about five years ago when it had been at the twice the current distance away from the Earth before disappearing view. In 1998 and again in 2005, Congress directed NASA scientists to prioritize their study of near-Earth objects, or NEOs, to prevent a devastating asteroid collision with Earth.

Experts will find out how accurate their projections of size and distance were on Thursday, as well as study what the asteroid is made of. TC4 is the 13th object in space that poses a threat to hit the Earth, the Guardian wrote.

Many scientists believe that the dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid.

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