Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Research | By Raquel Erickson

A massive asteroid will approach Earth on Thursday

A massive asteroid will approach Earth on Thursday

As of now, it has been predicted that the earth faces no major asteroid impact threat for the next 100 years, which should a relief for those looking for space-based conspiracy theories.

With asteroid 2012 TC4 about to pass between Earth and the moon, NASA is gearing up for its much-anticipated live test of its warning system.

Meanwhile, this asteroid which is nearly the size of a house will pass somewhere between 18,000-40,000 kilometers of the Earth's surface, just inside the space where geostationary satellites orbit in general. "Not even for satellites".

Sky and Telescope notes its approach is close enough that the rock's orbit will get a small deviation from Earth's gravity.

Currently, 2012 TC4 is travelling at a speed of almost 50,000 kph, although, initially when it was recovered by the astronomers from within the deep space, its speed was exceedingly dim. It wil likely return in 2050 and 2079 as it continually loops around the sun. TC4 is expected to approach the planet at a point south of Australia.

It will fly by on October 12 at one eighth of the distance between Earth and the moon, and about 30 per cent further away than geosynchronous satellites.

But TC4 has been picked by experts to test the global asteroid pre-warning system, which involves observatories, science labs and universities around the world. Various space agencies around the world, including NASA, will be tracking the approaching asteroid. It has been described as a dress-rehearsal in case a similar asteroid hits the Earth.

In regards to this, the fly-by will allow astronomers to test an worldwide asteroid warning network made up of observatories and scientists to help develop plans for what to do in the face of a real threat.

There is little to be done in terms of planetary defence at the moment, except carry out evacuations of anyone in harm's way.

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