Earlier this month, the news about a small asteroid coming close to Earth has caused controversy among the astronomical community.
NASA reported that on 5 March the asteroid 2013 TX68, that two years ago flew past Earth, will fly by our planet at a comfortable distance between 17 000 and 14 million kilometers, without posing any risk. However, astronomers at NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) warned about a remote chance (odds of no more than 1-in-250-million) that this 30m asteroid could impact the Earth on September 28, 2017.
Now, NASA has changeds it mind. By obtaining additional observations of asteroid 2013-TX68, astronomers refine its orbital trajectory and distance predictions, moving the date of the asteroid’s Earth encounters from March 5 to March 8 and reconfirming that this small rock poses no threat to Earth.
We already knew this asteroid, 2013 TX68, would safely fly past Earth in early March, but this additional data allow us to get a better handle on its orbital path,
said Paul Chodas, manager of CNEOS.
The data indicate that this small asteroid will probably pass much farther away from Earth than previously thought.
The new prediction for 2013 TX68 is that it will fly about 5 million kilometers from our planet. There is a still a chance that it could come closer but no less than 24,000 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. The calculation were made by Marco Micheli, measuring its position by tracking the objects in NEOCC’ archive images and provided these definite observations. He also better delimit the path of the rock in future years, as there’s no risk of impact over the next century.
There is no concern whatsoever regarding this asteroid – unless you were interested in seeing it with a telescope,
Prospects for observing this asteroid, which were not very good to begin with, are now even worse because the asteroid is likely to be farther away, and therefore dimmer than previously believed.
The asteroid 2013 TX68 was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey on October 6, 2013. It has a diameter of 30 meters (98 ft). In comparison, the asteroid that entered over Russian skies in February, 2013 three years ago, was approximately 20 meters. If an asteroid of the size of 2013 TX68 were to enter the Earth’s atmosphere, it is likely to produce an explosion in the air as intense as twice the energy of the Chelyabinsk event.
The speed of the space rock has also been updated. Asteroid 2013 TX68 is travelling at a speed of 34,279 miles per hour (55,166 km/h).