'Damn close' asteroid due to speed past Earth

'Damned close' asteroid will miss Earth this time, say astronomers
Incoming! Asteroid to Wave Hello to Earthlings During 'Damn Close' Flyby (PHOTO)
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11 August, 2017

The European Space Agency says it'll treat the close encounter as an "excellent opportunity to test the worldwide ability to detect and track near-Earth objects and assess our ability to respond together to a real asteroid threat", according to a statement.

The asteroid is forecast to speed inside the moon's orbit at 27,300 miles (43,935km) - an eighth of the distance between the Earth and the moon. Scientists say the friendly neighbor will be flying by just far enough to miss geostationary satellites.

Luckily, it looks that humanity will live to fight another day because the asteroid will not whack into our planet.

The asteroid, which is about 15 m to 30 m long, first went past the Earth in October 2012, though it was at almost double the distance then.

"It will not hit the Earth", said Detlef Koschny of ESA's "Near Earth Objects" research team.

"It's damn close", said Rolf Densing, who heads the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

A 20-metre near-Earth asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere over Russian Federation on 15 February 2013 causing a meteor explosion.

An asteroid is set to skim past Earth at a distance of 6,880km later this year. "The farthest satellites are 36,000 kilometers out, so this is indeed a close miss".

The campaign will exercise the global network of observatories and research organisations working on planetary defence.

NASA scientists have previously tested their monitoring and emergency response coordination systems using hypothetical impact scenarios, but the October flyby offers researchers a chance to track and predict the size and trajectory of the previously detected near-Earth object in real time.

Now, the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile has managed to track down the rock and determine its distance.

Measuring between 49 to 98 meters long, the travelling rock is similar in size to the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013.


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