Still recuperating from the September 2015 asteroid scare? Well, sit back. According to a recent NASA press release, a small asteroid, by the name of 2013 TX68, will whizz past Earth at a very close distance, in only a few weeks. There is no need to worry, however, as it will likely cruise at around 11,000 miles (about 17,000 kilometers) from our planet.
According to the scientists, 2013 TX68 was first discovered two years ago when it flew past the Earth at a distance of nearly 1.3 million miles (approx. 2 million kilometers). Observed as part of the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey, the celestial body, which measures about 100 feet (or 30 meters) in diameter, was tracked for three whole days, before it disappeared into the sky. While very little is actually known about its orbit, the space agency believes that the upcoming flyby will have no impact on our planet, whatsoever. Paul Chodas of CNEOS said:
This asteroid’s orbit is quite uncertain, and it will be hard to predict where to look for it. There is a chance that the asteroid will be picked up by our asteroid search telescopes when it safely flies past us next month, providing us with data to more precisely define its orbit around the sun.
On March 5, the object will glide past Earth, although astronomers are still not sure at what distance. It could be as far as 9 million miles (or 14 million kilometers) or just 11,000 miles (approx. 17,000 kilometers). According to researchers at NASA’s Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS), even at its closest, the asteroid will safely fly by, without impacting the Earth in any way. There is however a very small chance (around 1-in-250-million) that 2013 TX68 could hit our planet on September 28, 2017. Chodas added:
The possibilities of collision on any of the three future flyby dates are far too small to be of any real concern. I fully expect any future observations to reduce the probability even more.