Asteroid 2012 TC4 is heading towards Earth, with NASA claiming it gives their scientists a chance to test its space threat-scanning ability.
The asteroid has been out of range of telescopes since 2012. But on July 27, 31, and then again on Aug. 5, the approaching asteroid 2012 TC4 was observed again by Olivier Hainaut, Detlef Koschny and Marco Micheli of the European Space Agency using one of the European Southern Observatory’s 8.2-meter telescopes at its Very Large Telescope Observatory.
The scientists said they are “excited” by the asteroid, which could be as large as 130 feet in size and is expected to fly past Earth on October 12 and 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 kilometers) from the surface of Earth while NASA said it is “absolutely certain” the rock will miss the planet.
This asteroid was first spotted in 2012 and it was this asteroid that worried people who thought the Mayan ancient civilization has predicted the end of the world.
At this moment the asteroid is approaching at about 30,000 mph (14 kilometers per second), and will continue to brighten – reaching 13th magnitude at time of closest approach.
NASA scientists are planning to use its upcoming October close approach to Earth as an opportunity not only for science, but to test NASA’s planetary defense system. The defense will not fire missiles from Earth into space yet, they want to monitor the asteroid only.