Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Asteroid Passing Earth Thursday Won't Hit Us-Yet

Asteroid Passing Earth Thursday Won't Hit Us-Yet

"We know today that it will also not hit the Earth in the year 2050, but the close flyby in 2050 might deflect the asteroid such that it could hit the Earth in the year 2079", said Rüdiger Jehn of the European Space Agency's Near-Earth Object programme in the Netherlands. Shock waves shattered windows and knocked down onlookers as fragments of the disintegrating space rock peppered the Ural countryside.

The asteroid, estimated to be 50 to 100 metres in size, was discovered by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) in Hawaii in 2012.

The passing of the asteroid relatively close to Earth is being used by asteroid trackers around the world to test their ability to operate as a coordinated worldwide asteroid warning network.

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. Now, it has brightened up as it has gotten closer to the Earth.

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Khidir Mikayilov, Doctor of philosophy in Physics, said that asteroid will approach the Earth at a distance of 43 thousand kilometers, which is about 10 times less than the distance from the Earth to the Moon. "Things do hit other things, and we're not special in that regard", the associate director of the International Astronomical Union tells the Monitor. "These are grains of sand".

Pretty close means the asteroid will pass around 26,000 miles from Earth, but that's not very far away in space terms.

. For example, in 2013, a meteoroid, similar to the size of TC4, exploded in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk in Russian Federation and the resulting shockwave blew out the windows of almost 5,000 buildings and injured more than 1,200 people.

Amateur astronomers have captured images of 2012 TC4 with small telescopes.

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