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House-sized asteroid 2012 TC4 'narrowly' misses Earth

15 October 2017

The Asteroid 2012 TC4 passed at less than 44,000 kilometers away from our planet.

The 30 metre-long asteroid flew past Earth at a distance of 27,300 miles - nearly as low as where man-made satellites sit in orbit. The program begins at 8pm ET. This asteroid - which had the dimensions of a house - is called "Asteroid 2012 TC4".

As The Guardian reported, the asteroid's future path will be changed by Earth's orbit every time it comes close to the planet.

NASA researchers were sure there was no risk of impact, but they did capitalize on the close encounter by testing their asteroid warning systems. This provided them with a rare opportunity-to plan an exercise testing out the world's worldwide asteroid warning network.

The extinction of the dinosaurs is popularly blamed on an asteroid hitting Earth.

Asteroid 2012 TC4 is a space rock that "was never observed until it became a fireball in the sky" in 2012, Mack noted.

According to NASA, no asteroid now known is predicted to impact Earth for the next 100 years. Furthermore, its small size-between 50 and 100ft-means even if it was on course to hit us, it would burn up as soon as it entered our atmosphere.

The asteroid will return again in the future and the next visit could pose a unsafe threat.

"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", said Rüdiger Jehn of the European Space Agency. A mid-size asteroid impacts has the potential to cause catastrophic damage if it hit a populated are like a town or city, while large asteroid impacts have the potential to cause global mass extinctions. Astrophysicist Alan Fitzsimmons, from the Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland, has said that an asteroid will possibly strike Earth in just a matter of time.

During the planetary defense exercise, NASA will be joined by space agencies and institutes around the world.

Since then, observers around the world have been tracking the object as it approaches Earth and reporting their observations to the Minor Planet Center.

"This effort will exercise the entire system, to include the initial and follow-up observations, precise orbit determination, and global communications".