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Flies to the Earth a giant asteroid, scientists

Flies to the Earth a giant asteroid, scientists”

For comparison, the distance that geostationary satellites orbit at is roughly 22,000 miles, so TC4 is going to be incredibly close to our planet when it makes its pass.

As reported in the European space Agency, the asteroid will not hit the Earth.

Not wanting to miss an opportunity when it sails past, researchers are now planning to use the rare chance to test Earth's planetary defense systems - which up until now only focused on early warning detection, not asteroid deflection.

First spotted by the Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii, officials were expecting the house-sized asteroid to reemerge this year after it disappeared in 2012 - they just didn't know how far from Earth it would be.

Now, the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile has managed to track down the rock and determine its distance. Estimates of its size range from 15 to 30 meters in length.

"It's damn close", Rolf Densing, head of Germany's European Space Operations Center, told AFP.

There are thought to be millions of them, majority in a "belt" between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

A 40m-long space rock caused the largest Earth impact in recent history when it exploded over Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908, flattening 2,000 km2 of forest.

In 2013, a meteoroid of about 20 meters exploded in the atmosphere over the city of Chelyabinsk in central Russian Federation with the kinetic energy of about 30 Hiroshima atom bombs.

About 1,500 people were injured seriously enough to seek medical treatment, mainly by broken glass from windows that were blown in when the shock wave arrived.

If an object the size of TC4 were to enter Earth's atmosphere, "it would have a similar effect to the Chelyabinsk event", said the ESA.

The new observations reveal it will miss Earth by about 27,000 miles.

TC4 is unlikely to shed any debris into the atmosphere.

"2012 TC4 does not pose a threat to Earth, but because it was observed only briefly at the time of its discovery, its orbit was not very precise", Kelley said.



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