An impact with the Earth has been avoided this time. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The asteroid known as 2012 TC4 is set to pass us by at a safe distance of 27,300 miles in October.
At around 20-30 meters long, the asteroid, which first skipped past us five years ago, is only slightly smaller than the object thought to have been responsible for the Tunguska explosion in 1908.
There had been some uncertainty over just how close it was going to get to our planet during its rendez-vous this year but now, astronomers at the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have been able to definitively confirm that it does not pose a threat.
“We know for sure that there is no possibility for this object to hit the Earth,” said Detlef Koschny of ESA’s near-Earth objects research team. “There is no danger whatsoever.”
That said, with a trajectory that will take it 27,300 miles from the Earth’s surface (approximately an eighth of the distance to the Moon), there is no denying that it will be a close call.
“[This] is an excellent opportunity to test the international ability to detect and track near-Earth objects and assess our ability to respond together to a real asteroid threat,” ESA said in a statement.