Skip to comments.Asteroid that just buzzed Earth may not miss on return visit
Posted on 10/13/2017 10:58:04 AM PDT by Red Badger
Asteroid 2012 TC4 doesn't have a very memorable name, but it might leave quite an impression years from now.
The house-sized asteroid that just passed by Earth, almost as close as many satellites in orbit, will be back -- and a future visit might lead to it taking up permanent residency here.
On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, Asteroid 2012 TC4 safely passed by our planet at an altitude of 27,300 miles (44,000 kilometers), just a few thousand miles above the level of satellites in geosychronous orbit. That's nearly twice as close as when it passed us almost exactly five years ago, about a week after it was first discovered in October 2012.
The most recent models of the space rock's future path, which can be altered by Earth's gravity each time it makes a close pass, have ruled out the possibility that it will impact Earth when it makes another close call in 2050.
But the same can't be said for its visit in 2079.
"We know today that it will also not hit the Earth in the year 2050, but the close flyby in 2050 might deflect the asteroid such that it could hit the Earth in the year 2079," Rüdiger Jehn of the European Space Agency told AFP.
The odds of an impact 62 years from now are currently placed at about 1 in 750.
Fortunately, if 2012 TC4 does attempt to give us a violent cosmic body blow, it probably won't be the same kind of existential collision that did in the dinosaurs. In fact, it's likely smaller than the bolide that exploded when it hit the atmosphere over Russia in 2013, blowing out a bunch of windows in Chelyabinsk in the process.
It's actually space rocks like that one that probably pose the bigger risk, because it was never observed until it became a fireball in the sky that day. All the more reason to point more eyes and lenses toward the sky to find the 99 percent of asteroids in the solar system big enough to level a city that are believed to still be undiscovered.
It returns in 2050?
I haven’t decided if I’ll even be here at that time...
Something like this will cause the next mass extinction, not CO2.
If it passes every 5 years, why are they reporting analysis as if it passes every fifty years? Typo?
2050 is the next time it’ll come really close, and ditto for 2079. All the other times e.g. 2022, 2027 etc it will be further away as it passes Earth.
If the target is Mecca, all cheers.
Fortunately, I’m going to be out of town that day.
2079? I’ll be sure to wait up for that.
It is hard to fathom that the orbital period of earth and this asteroid are so identical that it would just happen to pass us that close again.
OT — The author writes “That’s nearly twice as close...”
Aaaaggghhh!!! Something can be twice or thrice as large as something, but NOT smaller or less than that something.
It’s between 30 and 60 feet across. Slightly larger than the one that made Barringer Crater in AZ but probably much less dense, therefore less massive. If it made it to the ground, which it probably wouldn’t, it would probably cause a crater between half a mile and a mile in diameter. What the people who study impact effects call a City Killer.
I’d settle for San Francisco!
Yo, asteroid! If you take a shot at the earth, you best not miss! Now that youve pissed us off, were going to destroy you with the power of Diane Warren.
If it only took 5 years to come back at us, since its initial discovery in 2012, qhy 43 years this time?
Or did we see it the first time when it started its route around the sun and encountered it this time on its sweep back in the other direction?
According to NASA, objects smaller than 30 meters diameter are unlikely to cause substantial damage, and will likely disintegrate in the upper atmosphere.
This asteroid is about 15 meters diameter.
Whew, we don’t need to worry about globull warming any more!
I think someone else may have a say in it, too...
Looks like to me they could just hit it with a bottle rocket or something, pushing it to a new orbit..........
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