Asteroid 2012 TC4 Fly-By Too Close For Comfort?

Astrologers are taking a close look at Asteroid 2012 TC4 set for a fly-by in October 2017. They are not sure just how close or far it will pass by earth at that time.

Asteroid 2012 TC4 Fly-By Too Close For Comfort?

Asteroid 2012 TC4 begins its approach this summer!

The Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) in Pasadena, California stated that a small asteroid will pass by Earth on October 12, 2017 but right now, how close or far is anyone’s guess. Fortunately, what they do say is that it will pass at a safe distance.

That safe distance could end up coming pretty close, however, which translates to a mere 4,2000 (6,800 km) from the planet we live in. But then again, they say it could be much more distant, about two-thirds the moon’s distance from Earth.

CNEOS’ manager, reported, “We know the orbit of 2012 TC4 well enough to be certain that it won’t hit Earth.” Scientific calculations are based on tracking done way back in October of 2012 when the Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii first discovered the rogue asteroid. Strange and a little unnerving is that scientists have not laid eyes on the asteroid since that first time in 2012 due to its distance, but those observations apparently gave them enough detail to know Earth will be in the clear.

However, there are some conflicting reports that are not that reassuring. Judit Györgyey-Ries, astronomer at the University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory, told “We could see an airburst, maybe broken windows, depending on where it hits…It has a 0.00055% cumulative chance that it will hit…The fact that the MOID [minimum orbit intersection distance] is only 0.079 LD flags it as a possible impactor. However it is just the smallest possible distance between the orbits.”

Detlef Koschny, head of the Near-Earth Object (NEO) Segment in the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme office at ESA, also told “There is one in a million chance that it could hit us.”

With all this said, 2012 TC4 begins its Earthly approach this summer. What we can be sure of confirms CNEOS is that powerful telescopes will be trained on its arrival and new data will develop regarding the asteroid’s precise trajectory. Based on brightness measurements made during the week in October 2012 when it was initially spotted, the asteroid is approximately 30 to 100 feet (house-size) or 10 to 30 meters. These measurements compare closely to the estimated 20 meter-wide meteor that exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere in February 2013 over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk.

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    • Lin Jenkinson

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