Astronomers at Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Ukraine discovered a new asteroid almost a month after it came within 4.2 million miles (6.7 million kilometers) of Earth on September 16. Asteroid 2013 TV135 is about 1,300 feet (400 meters) long, and its orbit around the sun varies from 75% of the way to Jupiter to approximately the same as Earth.
Because we have only known about the asteroid for a short time and it has an orbit of about four years, it is difficult to predict its precise path solely from this. Preliminary observations say that the asteroid will likely be near us again in 2032, but there is currently no cause for concern. The initial odds of impact were 1 in 63,000, but based on what information we have now, there is a 1 in 14,000 chance that the asteroid could impact Earth. This shouldn’t be a cause for panic, as the initial claim was made with only a week’s worth of information.
In the coming months, the asteroid will be in a good position for astronomers to observe its speed, position, and direction. Once there is a sufficient amount of data at the Minor Planet Center in Massachusetts, NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program, nicknamed “Spaceguard,” will be able to update the risk of impact, and the numbers are expected to be in Earth’s favor.
Don Yeomans, manager of the Near-Earth Object Program Office at JPL has said, “The current probability of no impact in 2032 [is] about 99.998 percent. This is a relatively new discovery. With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future.”
The Near-Earth Object Program is responsible for identifying and tracking the 10,332 meteors, comets, and asteroids that could potentially pose a threat of impact with Earth. The data they collect is used to determine the possible risk of a collision.
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