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Will asteroid 2012 TC4 hit Earth in October 2017?

On Oct. 12, 2017, the asteroid 2012 TC4 is scheduled to whizz by Earth quite closely. The precise distance of its closest approach is still unclear, as well as its size. Based on observations in October 2012 when the asteroid 2012 TC4 missed our planet, astronomers guess that its size could differ from 12 to 40 meters. The meteor that blowup over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013, injuring 1,500 people and seriously damaging over 7,000 buildings, was nearly 20 meters wide. Thus, the impact of 2012 TC4 could be even more overwhelming. Judit Györgyey-Ries, astronomer at the University of Texas' McDonald Observatory, spoke to astrowatch.net. "It is something to keep an eye on. We could see an airburst maybe broken windows, depending on where it hits." The house-sized asteroid was discovered on Oct. 4, 2012 by the Pan-STARRS observatory located in Hawaii. Week later, it gave Earth a close cut when it passed the planet at the distance of 0.247 LD (lunar distance), or 94,800 km. Asteroid 2012 TC4 is a stretched and rapidly spinning object and has been known to make many close approaches to Planet Earth in the past. Now, the researchers try to conclude the precise path of 2017 fly-by and the possibility of a potential impact.
Asteroid 2012 TC4 as seen by the Remanzacco Observatory team of Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero, Nick Howes on Oct. 9, 2012

Györgyey-Ries said "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, director of the Near-Earth Object (NEO) Segment in the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program office at ESA, told astrowatch.net.  "There is one in a million chance that it could hit us," He also tried to evaluate the precise size of the celestial body. He said "The size was estimated from the brightness, but we don't know the reflectivity. So it could be smaller or larger, assume from 10 m to 40 m. A 40 m iron object would go through the atmosphere and make a crater; a 10 m rocky object would be hardly noticed."

Makoto Yoshikawa of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), affiliate of NEOs Division at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) believe that the asteroid poses no threat to Earth. He said "The distance is very small. But this distance does not mean the collision," NASA's Asteroid Watch has guaranteed there is no chance this asteroid will touch our planet, but Györgyey-Ries confesses that more observations are required to ease the doubts.

As of Apr. 12, 2015, there are 1572 possibly hazardous asteroids (PHA) spotted. None of the known PHAs is on a collision path with our planet, although astronomers are discovering new ones all the time.


Unknown said...

You tell me is this or is this not a heavenly sign?

Shootist said...

NEO is full of rocks and icy objects. Mythology has nothing to do with it.

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