Asteroid to Come “Damn Close” to Earth

NASA has confirmed an asteroid the size of a house will narrowly miss the Earth when it passes by on Thursday.

The space agency’s specialists have been monitoring the close approach of the asteroid named 2012 TC4 fearing it could collide with the planet, but now believe it could pass the Earth as close as 6759 kilometres away.

Scientists feared the asteroid could strike satellites orbiting Earth, but now believe the chance is non-existent.

NASA is convinced it will not impact Earth, but say it will skim the earth at a distance of about 43,935 kilometres.

Head of the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt Germany said it would be a near miss.

“It’s damn close,” he said.

“The farthest satellites are 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometres) out, so this is indeed a close miss.”

“As close as it is right now, I think this prediction is pretty safe, meaning that it will miss.”

The space rock is hurtling through space at about 40,000 miles per hour (25749 kilometres per hour) with its closest approach to Earth over Antarctica.

It has not been seen since its 2012 discovery when it sped past Earth at about one-fourth of the distance from Earth to the moon.

Its distance has prevented it from being detected over the last five years.

It is believed to be bigger than the Chelyabinsk meteor which exploded above Russia, damaging thousands of buildings and injuring 1,500 people in 2013.

A spokesman said they plan to use the fly-by as an opportunity to test NASA’s network of observatories and scientists who work with planetary defence.

“Even though scientists cannot yet predict exactly how close it will approach, they are certain it will come no closer than 6,800 kilometres from the surface of earth,” he said.

Picture Courtesy: NASA

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