Earthlings test warning system as
asteroid flies by
Send a link to a friend
[October 12, 2017]
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - An asteroid
the size of a school bus flew remarkably near Earth on Thursday,
providing scientists with an opportunity to test the warning systems
that would kick in if a space collision was coming.
Asteroid 2012 TC4 came close -- passing Earth at a distance of only
around 44,000 km (27,000 miles), which is nothing in Universe terms.
There was no actual risk of a hit, although the asteroid did come well
inside the orbit of the Moon and that of some human-made satellites.
"Basically, we pretended that this is a 'critical' object with a high
risk of impacting Earth ... and exercised our communication channels and
used telescopes and radar systems for observations," Detlef Koschny of
European Space Agency said in a blog post on the agency's website.
The results were mixed.
Koschny said one big radar system in Puerto Rico did not work due to
damage from Hurricane Maria but that another U.S. based radar system was
"This is exactly why we do this exercise – to not be surprised by these
things," he said.
[to top of second column]
This color image of Earth, taken by NASA's Earth Polychromatic
Imaging Camera (EPIC), a four megapixel CCD camera and telescope on
July 6, 2015, and released on July 20, 2015. REUTERS/NASA/Handout
via Reuters/File Photo
Radar images showed the asteroid was about 10 to 12 meters (yards) wide,
roughly the size of an asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia
in 2013, leaving more than 1,000 people injured by flying glass and
Koschny said the ESA now needed to update its predictions for how close
2012 TC4 will come to Earth on its next flyby, which has so far been
forecast for 2079.
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.