October 18, 2013
Newly Discovered Asteroid Has Slight Chance Of Impacting Earth
[ Watch the Video: Earth Receives A Quick Visit From Asteroid ]
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineAstronomers working at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Ukraine found a new asteroid on October 13, 2013 and NASA confirmed it came within about 4.2 million miles of Earth on September 16.
While 4.2 million miles seems far enough away, experts said the rock, known as asteroid 2013 TV135, will have a slight chance of impacting Earth when it returns in 2032. While scientists have spent a week making calculations, NASA said the probability of the asteroid impacting Earth is just one in 63,000, or just 0.002 percent.
Asteroid 2013 TV135 is just one of 10,332 near-Earth objects that are being tracked by NASA's Near-Earth Object Program. The asteroid is estimated to be about 1,300 feet in size and its orbit carries 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 asteroid should be easily observable in the coming months and once additional observations are provided to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Initial calculations will be improved during this period, and the most likely result will be a dramatic reduction, or complete elimination.
"To put it another way, that puts the current probability of no impact in 2032 at about 99.998 percent,"stated Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "This is a relatively new discovery. With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future."
The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground and space-based telescopes. The program discovers these objects, characterizes them and identifies their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.
Protecting Earth from potential asteroid impacts is currently a hot topic among scientists. In May scientists from around the world gathered to talk about the threat asteroids pose to Earth and how to deal with them. The researchers from universities, research institutes, national space agencies and space industry professionals were invited out to Spain to discuss Near-Earth Object threat mitigation and effects.
Image Below: This diagram shows the orbit of asteroid 2013 TV135 (in blue), which has just a 1-in-63,000 chance of impacting Earth. Its risk to Earth will likely be further downgraded as scientists continue their investigations. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech