‘It’s coming in DAMN CLOSE’ NASA is monitoring huge asteroid hurtling towards Earth

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NASA has confirmed it is monitoring the approach of a large celestial object, that a top scientist warned is “coming in DAMN CLOSE.”

An asteroid called 2012 TC4 is due to make a staggeringly close pass of Earth on October 12.

Nasa earth defence specialists are keenly monitoring the close approach of the asteroid, with fears it could pass as near as just 4,200 miles away.

It was feared the asteroid could strike satellites orbiting Earth, but scientists now believe it will be 5,000 miles out from our planet.

Rolf Densing, head of the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, said: “It’s damn close.

“The farthest satellites are 36,000 kilometres (22,400 miles) out, so this is indeed a close miss.

“As close as it is right now, I think this prediction is pretty safe, meaning that it will miss.”

This has not stopped YouTube doom-mongers taking to the internet with scare stories about the huge rock.

YouTuber Igor Kryan said in a promotional blurb for a video on the asteroid: “Something huge from deep space coming to earth and it is coming closer than distance between New York & Tokyo.

“On October 12 New Yorkers will be closer to the object 2012 TC4 than to Tokyo.

“It will come thousands of times closer to Earth than feared Francesca mega asteroid.”

Nasa has insisted we have nothing to fear from the close flyby of 2012 TC4, which is as big as a tower block and traveling towards us at more than 40,000mph.

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It is believed to be bigger than the Chelyabinsk meteor which exploded above Russia, damaging thousands of buildings and injuring 1,500 people in 2013.

Nasa is convinced it will not impact, but say it will skim earth at a distance of about 27,300 miles.

At one stage it was feared it could come as close as just over 4,000 miles.

Asteroid 2012 TC4 is estimated to be between 10 and 30 metres (30 and 100 feet) and will pass by earth on October 12.

The 20-metre Chelyabinsk meteor exploded in the atmosphere above the Russian city unexpectedly on February 15 2013.

No space agency had any idea it was approaching before the explosion ripped through the air.

The asteroid released around 26 to 33 times as much energy of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.

Most injuries sustained were from flying broken glass from buildings damaged by the strength of the explosion.

Nasa scientists are aware of the pass of the larger 2012 TC4 and said they were excited about what could be learned from it.

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It’s damn close. The farthest satellites are 36,000 kilometres (22,400 miles) out, so this is indeed a close miss.

Rolf Densing

A spokesman said: “They plan to use its upcoming October close approach to earth as an opportunity not only for science, but to test Nasa’s network of observatories and scientists who work with planetary defence.

“Even though scientists cannot yet predict exactly how close it will approach, they are certain it will come no closer than 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometres) from the surface of earth.”

Michael Kelley, program scientist and Nasa Headquarters lead for the TC4 observation campaign, said: “Scientists have always appreciated knowing when an asteroid will make a close approach to and safely pass the earth because they can make preparations to collect data to characterise and learn as much as possible about it.

“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.”

Scientists from Nasa’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have determined that it could even pass much farther away, as far as 170,000 miles (270,000 kilometres), or two-thirds of the distance from Earth to the moon.

These calculations are based on only seven days of tracking 2012 TC4 after it was discovered on October 5, 2012, by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) from Haleakala on the island of Maui, Hawaii.

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Further observations are needed to more precisely determine the asteroid’s orbit, which has been out of range of telescopes since 2012.

The spokesman added: “Asteroid 2012 TC4 may be slightly larger than the space rock that hit Earth’s atmosphere near Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013.

“As it starts to approach Earth this summer, large telescopes will be used to detect it and re-establish the asteroid’s precise trajectory.

“The new observations are expected to help refine knowledge about its orbit, narrowing the uncertainty about how far it will be from Earth at its closest approach in October.”

Paul Chodas, manager of the CNEOS at JPL said: “This is the perfect target for such an exercise because 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 than make more refined asteroid orbit determinations possible.”

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