Asteroid Expected To Skim Past Earth In October
According to the ESA, asteroid 2012 TC4 will be flying 14 km per second at about one-eighth the distance of the moon from Earth.
To be more specific, the asteroid will only be 44,000 km away from Earth when it passes by and it will not even harm the farthest satellites in geostationary orbit which are located some 36,000 km away.
"We know for sure that there is no possibility for this object to hit the Earth. There is no danger whatsoever," ESA's "Near Earth Objects" research team member Detlef Koschny assured.
The only possibility that asteroid 2012 TC4 will open up is the opportunity it will give scientists to study the celestial body's composition, as well as enable the assessment for planetary defense in case of a serious asteroid threat.
But What If An Impact Is Possible?
Again, experts say that an impact will definitely not happen, but for those who want to be extremely prepared, researchers say TC4's impact could be similar to that of the 2013 Chelyabinsk incident wherein a piece of comet exploded in the atmosphere. The shockwave from the comet's explosion shattered windows of more than 6,000 buildings and injured almost 1,500 people.
In case of a sudden change in course and TC4 ends up entering the Earth's atmosphere, scientists say people should stay away from windows to avoid injuries from shattered glass.
"We could see an airburst, maybe broken windows, depending on where it hits," University of Texas's McDonald Observatory astronomer Judit Györgyey-Ries said.
Learn More About Asteroid 2012 TC4
According to the ESA, asteroid 2012 TC4 was first discovered in 2012 by the Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii, but experts have not been able to track it down for the past five years due mainly to its orbit.
However, scientists were able to determine in 2012 that TC4's next approach would happen in October 2017, and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile recently detected it some 56 million km away. This allowed ESA and ESO researchers to determine its trajectory and estimate its exact approach to the planet.
"It's damn close ... this is indeed a close miss," ESA's Darmstadt Operations Centre head Rolf Densing remarked.
Experts estimate that TC4's next approach will happen in 2019 but it will be farther that 34 million km away.