A small Apollo-class asteroid named 2012 TC4 will safely flyby Earth at 06:07 UTC ( ± 02:51) on October 12, 2012.
This asteroid has not ben seen since it was discovered in October 2012, when it flew past Earth at about 0.25 LD (¼ the distance from Earth to the Moon), so it's difficult to know how close it will pass us this time. However, as it starts to approach us this summer, large telescopes will be used to re-establish its precise trajectory and narrow the uncertainty.
"We know the orbit of 2012 TC4 well enough to be certain that it won’t hit Earth," said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
During the close approach on October 12, the space rock will pass no closer than 6 800 (4 200 miles) from our planet, and more likely much farther away, as far as 270 000 km (170 000 miles) or two-thirds of the distance from Earth to the Moon.
Based on what we currently know, this is an Apollo-class asteroid with an estimated size between 10 and 30 meters (30 to 100 feet). For comparison, the asteroid that hit Earth’s atmosphere near Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013 was roughly 20 m (70 feet) across.
Featured image credit: The green line indicates the object's apparent motion relative to the Earth, and the bright green marks are the object's location at approximately one hour intervals. The Moon's orbit is gray. The blue arrow points in the direction of Earth's motion and the yellow arrow points toward the Sun. Credit: Minor Planet Center.
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