Newly discovered asteroid missed Earth but will return in 2032

MIAMI Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:32pm EDT

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MIAMI (Reuters) - A newly discovered asteroid made a "close" approach to Earth this week - at least in astronomical terms - and it is likely to come back around in 2032, but there is only a miniscule risk of it smashing into the planet, NASA said on Friday.

The asteroid known as 2013 TV135 came within 4.2 million miles (6.7 million km) of Earth on Wednesday, the U.S. space agency said.

It was discovered on October 8 by astronomers at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Ukraine. Astronomers have only a week's worth of observations to go on, but believe its orbit will bring it back to Earth's neighborhood in 2032.

The probability of the asteroid hitting Earth is only one in 63,000, they calculated.

"To put it another way, that puts the current probability of no impact in 2032 at about 99.998 percent," said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

With additional observations in the coming months, scientists may be able to better calculate the asteroid's orbit and reduce their estimate of the risk or rule out any risk entirely, NASA said.

The asteroid is estimated to be 1,300 feet in size and its orbit is believed to carry it as far out as about three-quarters of the distance to Jupiter's orbit and as close to the sun as Earth's orbit, NASA said.

The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, known as "Spaceguard," detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth to determine if any could pose harm. The newly discovered asteroid is one of 10,332 near-Earth objects identified so far.

(Reporting by Jane Sutton; editing by Christopher Wilson)

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Comments (3)
AZWarrior wrote:
We know that a significant impact will happen in the future, it is simply a matter of when. Ifthe government is smart (yes, I know that is a real long shot), they will not tell people until the last minute. Such news would only cause a complete breakdown of civilization.

Oct 19, 2013 6:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
DavidinWY wrote:
So during the US gov’t shutdown, did they just turn off all the monitors or were they just ordered not to look at them?

Oct 19, 2013 11:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Decatur wrote:
Not a conspiracy with ‘monitors turned off’ or ordered unwatched.

The short-notice near-earth objects that have passed close have come from direction of sun if larger or just missed detection if ‘smaller’ like Siberia fireball last summer. More distant and smaller objects of course need more effort to detect. Some are darker than charcoal – very faint. There are ground-based and space-based programs.
Recently a couple of private start ups began, interested in mapping more asteroids, helping discover and cahrt the orbits of more, with the thought of eventually mining a few as the long term profit motive. Several agencies and many researchers share data on this overall comet-and-asteroid hazard topic.

The sequester already cut NASA and other science funding for programs like this before the shutdown.

Maybe we need to think about what’s best for keeping ‘American know-how’ healthy in the 21st century – not to mention protecting our planet – before throwing the baby of government-funded science programs out with the TEA party bathwater.

Oct 20, 2013 3:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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