Scientists Will Simulate an Asteroid Impact with the Real Thing


While earlier, scientists used to have detailed idea about most of the asteroids that came close to earth and know if they will fly by earth safely or cause any harm, this time, they are unsure if this beyond-telescope-range asteroid will take a safe flyby to earth and how close it will come to earth while passing. Indeed, estimates of its distance from Earth during the upcoming flyby range from the aforementioned 4,200 miles to 170,000 miles (270,000 km), or almost two-thirds of the distance from our planet to the moon, NASA officials said. The asteroid, named 2012 TC4, does not pose a threat to the Earth, but NASA is using it as a test object for an observational campaign because of its close flyby on October 12, 2017.

There's no danger of an impact by the space rock on this pass.

U.S. space agency NASA is preparing to test limitations and strengths of its network of observatories when a small asteroid is expected to fly-by Earth in October, said its team of researchers who believe that the celestial object is orbiting at a far safer distance. This is the reason why NASA is continuously working towards the improvement of their asteroid defense system in order to detect incoming asteroids, their trajectory and the potential effect on the planet.

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But based on that data, it looks like TC4 will zoom around again on October 12 this year, and researchers are making preparations to not only update their observations of this particular object, but also to test out some of their planetary defense strategies.

Dubbed "2012 TC4" it is estimated that the asteroid will miss us by just 4,200 miles. Professor Vishnu Reddy of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson leads the campaign to reacquire 2012 TC4 and sees it as an opportunity for the collaborative observation campaign to utilise the worldwide aspect of the network.

This will be the first time for the asteroid to return near the planet after it went undetected last 2012.

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NASA's CNEOS is responsible for "finding, tracking, and characterizing potentially hazardous asteroids and comets coming near Earth". 'It will be incumbent upon the observatories to get a fix on the asteroid as it approaches, and work together to obtain follow-up observations than make more refined asteroid orbit determinations possible'.

More than a dozen observatories, universities and labs across the world will be taking part in the exercise, so that teams can "collectively learn the strengths and limitations of our near-Earth object observation capabilities", said Professor Vishnu Reddy of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, who leads the campaign to reacquire '2012 TC4'.

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