Asteroid Passing Earth Thursday Won't Hit Us-Yet

Asteroid

That represents about an eighth of the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

The asteroid, designated as 2012 TC4 in recognition of the year it was first observed, will brush Earth overnight Wednesday and Thursday from about 30,000 miles, well within the moon's orbit.

Back in October 2012, a small (45-100 feet, or 15-30 m) asteroid known as 2012 TC4 had a close encounter with Earth.

Nasa's Mike Kelley, who leads the exercise to spot, track and intimately probe the transient visitor, insisted there was "no danger".

He said: "We've now been observing TC4 for two months, so we have very accurate position information on it, which in turn allows very precise calculations of its orbit, which will not cross that of Earth nor its satellites".

In other words, if there's a real, Armageddon-style asteroid threatening Earth, expert bodies around the world will be able to detect it and hopefully be able to come up with a better plan than sending a bunch of oil drillers up in space to divert it away from sending us into oblivion. The Chelyabinsk meteor exploded about 12 miles over Russian Federation with about 30 times more power than the nuclear bomb over Hiroshima in 1946.

This looping animation depicts an artist's impression of the safe flyby of small asteroid 2012 TC4 as it passes under Earth on the United Kingdom morning of 12 October 2017.

TC4 is one of about three similar-sized objects that pass the Earth at the equivalent projected distance every year.

Although it travelled out of the range of asteroid-tracking telescopes shortly after it was discovered, it had been predicted that it would return to view in late 2017. There's no chance the asteroid will hit the Earth, but its proximity will be used to test an asteroid warning system.

"This campaign is a team effort that involves more than a dozen observatories, universities and labs around the globe so we can collectively learn the strengths and limitations of our near-Earth object observation capabilities", said Dr. Vishnu Reddy, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, leader of the 2012 TC4 observation campaign. "We are practicing for the real serious case".

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

And even if they become better at predicting a strike, there is very little to be done about it, for now.

Its closest approach to our planet will be over Antarctica at 1:40 a.m. EDT (5:40 a.m. GMT, 7:40 a.m. CEST, 10:40 p.m. PDT on October 11).

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