Earth to witness asteroid swingby over the southern sky on Thursday

The 2012 TC4 asteroid has only been observed once

The 2012 TC4 asteroid has only been observed once

The asteroid was discovered by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) in Hawaii in 2012. 2012 TC4 is also not close to the geostationary satellites deployed to boost the communication and navigation systems on Earth.

On Oct. 12, 2017, asteroid 2012 TC4 will safely fly past Earth.

"It's very important these things are done, it's a big sky, things could come from any direction and there could be an asteroid with our name on in it", added Glenn. The space rock orbits the Sun approximately every 1.67 years at a distance of about 1.4 AU (astronomical unit). But 2012 TC4 asteroid is different.

NASA hopes to use an worldwide network of observatories to track 2012 TC4 - which could still pass as close as 6,700km or as far away as 273,000km. However, 2012 TC4 traveled out of the range of asteroid- tracking telescopes shortly after it was discovered. Observers with the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory were the first to recapture 2012 TC4, in late July this year, using one of their large 8-metre aperture telescopes. The distance is about one-eighth the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

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Scientists believe that 2012 TC4 would pass so close to Earth that its gravity could change the path of the asteroid's orbit. While scientists can not yet predict exactly how close it will approach, they are certain it will come no closer than 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) from Earth's surface. Recall that the Chelyabinsk meteor only caused substantial damage and injuries because it chanced to hit over a populated area.

NASA's Mike Kelley, who leads the Thursday's exercise to spot, track and intimately probe the transient visitor, said that there is no chance of collision, not even with the satellites. It would provide the trackers all over the world with a great opportunity to test their capability of functioning as an global asteroid warning network.

"The October pass will bring the asteroid up to magnitude 14, so extensive physical studies will be possible, but only briefly".

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