The asteroid of ‘uncertain orbit’ that REALLY could smash into Earth
The asteroid of ‘uncertain orbit’ that REALLY could smash into Earth, according to NASA
AN ASTEROID set for a staggering close whistle past of Earth in just 10 days could return to strike the planet as early as next year, NASA has admitted.
NASA says there is a slim chance of impact next year
We are expected to be risk free when the space rock hurtles past us at as close as 11,000 miles away – 21 times closer to us than the moon – on March 8.
But the US space agency cannot yet be 100 per cent certain about its orbital path.
NASA gives near-Earth asteroid a condition code regarding the certainty of its travel from one to 10, with the latter meaning least certainty.
The 100-feet long cosmic rubble known as asteroid 2013 TX68 is currently heading our way with a condition code of 8 and predicted passes of between just 11,000 miles and as much as 9 million miles.
The latest estimate as it nears is it will be about 5 million miles, but a close watch remains on it.
This NASA graphic shows estimated orbits of the asteroid NASA
Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near Earth Orbit Studies 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.”
NASA can also not be certain about the object missing us on a later pass in 2017.
The space agency is still confident there is no risk of it hitting us next week, but it puts the chances of a next year strike at one-in-250 million, so fortunately the odds are still quite low.
NASA uses radar imaging to keep track of near-Earth asteroidsNASA
At around 33 metres in length it is more than 50 per cent bigger than the 20-metre meteor which suddenly and unexpectedly hurtled at us above Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013.
That meteor, as an asteroid becomes once it is in our atmosphere, exploded with the force of a nuclear bomb above the shocked town.
The force of the explosion blew out the windows of hundreds of buildings and more than 1,000 people were injured by shards of glass.
Amazingly no one died.