Earth is going to get a close shave with an asteroid this fall, but don't worry, scientists say it poses no threat to Earth.
An asteroid the size of a house will be hurtling past the Earth on Oct. 12, inside the moon’s orbit but not close enough to cause any threat to us Earthlings. The giant chunk of rock will miss us by about 27,000 miles, or about an eight of the distance from the Earth to the moon but just outside of the orbit of the farthest geostationary satellites.
The asteroid, named 2012 TC4, actually swung near the planet in October 2012 at twice the distance. It is between 50 to 100 feet long and is speeding through space at a rate of 9 miles per second.
It will be a rare opportunity for researchers to test Earth’s “planetary defense” systems, which are more about early warning than asteroid deflection, although research is being conducted into the latter.
“A small asteroid flying past Earth on 12 October will provide scientists with a valuable opportunity to learn more about its orbit and composition,” reads a statement from the European Space Agency. “The campaign will exercise the international network of observatories and research organisations working on planetary defence. Astronomers recently spotted asteroid 2012 TC4 under a collaboration between ESA and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) to locate faint objects that might strike Earth. This is the first observation since 2012, when the asteroid was discovered by the Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii. It was found this time by ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.”