Tags: asteroid | drill | test

Onrushing Asteroid Drill Just a Test, Isn't It?

Image: Onrushing Asteroid Drill Just a Test, Isn't It?
(NASA)

By    |   Thursday, 03 Aug 2017 08:21 AM

NASA is keeping a very close eye on a small asteroid that will fly by Earth in October, saying it's tracking the hurtling space rock as a test of a new planetary defense system, Fox News reported.

Space agency scientists have assured the public that the asteroid, estimated to be between 30 and 100 feet wide, will fly safely past Earth and will provide an ideal opportunity to “test NASA’s network of observatories and scientists who work with planetary defense.”

NASA said the asteroid, 2012 TC4, had been out of range of telescopes since 2012 and would pass the Earth’s surface no closer than around 4,200 miles on Oct. 12.

News of testing the planetary defense system, however, has resulted in some speculation about the possibility the asteroid could impact Earth.

Astrowatch.net spoke to Judit Györgyey-Ries, an astronomer at the University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory, who said 2012 TC4 was something to keep an eye on. She called it a “possible impactor.”

“We could see an airburst maybe broken windows, depending on where it hits,” she said.

“The fact that the MOID [minimum orbit intersection distance] is only 0.079 LD, flags it as a possible impactor. However it is just the smallest possible distance between the orbits, it does not mean the bodies are at that location at the same time.”

NASA dispelled this, saying no asteroids that could impact earth in the foreseeable future had been observed.

Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said “while we know the orbit of 2012 TC4 well enough to be absolutely certain it will not impact Earth, we haven’t established its exact path just yet.

“... it will be incumbent upon the observatories to get a fix on the asteroid as it approaches, and work together to obtain follow-up observations that make more refined asteroid orbit determinations possible."

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NASA is keeping a very close eye on a small asteroid that will fly by Earth in October, saying it's tracking the hurtling space rock as a test of a new planetary defense system.
asteroid, drill, test
317
2017-21-03
Thursday, 03 Aug 2017 08:21 AM
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