Asteroid 2012 TC4, the Size of a House, Passes Earth Safely

Asteroid 2012 TC4 to pass 'damn close' to Earth tomorrow and give rare chance to test planet's space defences

House-sized asteroid may smash into Earth in 2079

The house-sized asteroid that just passed nearly as close by Earth as many satellites in orbit will be back, and a future visit might lead to it taking up permanent residency here.

The asteroid, known as 2012 TC4, traveling around 30,000 miles per hour did not enter the Earth's atmosphere, but it was close enough to be seen by small telescopes.

Asteroid 2012 TC4 was not visible anywhere in the world without a telescope.

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 time we are adding in another layer of effort, using this asteroid flyby to test the worldwide asteroid detection and tracking network, assessing our capability to work together in response to finding a potential real asteroid threat".

Less than a day later, the asteroid is already on a journey away from Earth.

"It's interesting to study such a small object, but it's also very appropriate, because we're more likely to see a small asteroid heading for Earth impact than a large one, simply because there are far more small ones than large ones", Chodas continued. About 14 hours after it passed by Earth, it passed the moon at a distance of about 277,000 kilometers (172,000 miles).

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