House-sized asteroid to buzz Earth on Oct. 12

The asteroid, named 2012 TC4, will zip by Earth at a distance of about 27,300 miles (44,000 kilometers), which is an eighth of the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
By Tobi Gerdes | Aug 15, 2017
On October 12, a smallish asteroid will fly past Earth well within the Moon's orbit, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). But the house-sized space rock will not pose a threat to the planet, astronomers say.

The asteroid, named 2012 TC4, will zip by Earth at a distance of about 27,300 miles (44,000 kilometers), which is an eighth of the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

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

Astronomers working in collaboration with the ESA and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) recently detected asteroid 2012 TC4 with ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile as part of an effort to locate faint objects that might hit Earth.

If a space rock the size of asteroid 2012 TC4 were to enter Earth's atmosphere, it would have a similar destructive effect as the February 2013 Chelyabinsk blast over Russia, an ESA statement said. An asteroid not much bigger than TC4 caused the 1908 Tunguska, Siberia, explosion the largest impact in modern history.

Although this asteroid poses no danger to Earth, it will be passing at a distance a little too close for comfort.

"It's damn close," said Rolf Lensing, head of the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, in the AFP report. "The farthest satellites are 36,000 kilometers out, so this is indeed a close miss."

The chance to observe TC4 gives astronomers "an excellent opportunity to test the international ability to detect and tract near-Earth objects and assess our ability to respond together to a real asteroid threat," the ESA statement said.

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