House-size asteroid set for near miss with Earth

House-size asteroid set for near miss with Earth

House-size asteroid set for near miss with Earth

The space agency NASA says the asteroid, called 2012 TC4, "will come no closer than 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) from the surface of the Earth" and there's no chance of a direct hit on October 12.

The lump of space rock, which is roughly 25m long and travelling at 14km per second (50,400kph), will pass between Earth and the moon, but will still be 8,000km away from the orbit of geostationary satellites, which circle the globe at a distance of 36,000km.

"We know for sure that there is no possibility for this object to hit Earth", said scientist Detlef Koschny of ESA's Near Earth Objects research team. "There is no danger whatsoever".

Dubbed 2012 TC4, the asteroid first passed the Earth in 2012, when it was nearly twice as far away as it will be this year before disappearing off on its galactic path.

First spotted by the Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii, officials were expecting the house-sized asteroid to reemerge this year after it disappeared in 2012 - they just didn't know how far from Earth it would be. The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile managed to locate the rock and determine its distance.

There are thought to be millions of them, majority in a "belt" between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Four years ago, a meteoroid of about 20 metres exploded in the atmosphere over the city of Chelyabinsk in central Russian Federation with the kinetic energy of about 30 Hiroshima atom bombs.

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That particular blast injured about 1,500 people, and damaged over 7,000 buildings, and experts now say 2012 TC4 is 'something to keep an eye on'. It caught everyone unawares.

'Physical properties of an asteroid (composition, structure, size) and its velocity relative to the Earth will influence the effects on an impact.

Based on predictions made at the agency's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies in Pasadena, California, it could also - and more likely will - pass much farther away, as far as 170,000 miles (270,000 kilometers).

But Earth's atmosphere stretches only a few hundred kilometres far, and TC4 will comfortably miss it. When we're talking about asteroids, this is solid material.

Densing, who has previously warned that humanity is not ready to defend itself against an Earth-bound object, said he would not lose any sleep, "not over this one".

"I would have felt a bit more comfortable if we. had a longer pre-warning time".

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