Asteroid whizzes past Earth and misses

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Asteroid diagram
The blue line shows 2013 TV135’s orbit.

Earlier last month, a humongous asteroid known as 2013 TV135 whizzed past Earth. A group of Ukrainian astronomers didn’t discover it until October 8, and it gained a flurry of attention.

Several headlines were reporting that the space rock may not have hit this time, but when it curves around and heads straight back towards Earth, there’s a chance it’ll collide into our planet with the force of several atomic bombs! Before the public could get too worked up, NASA announced there was no need to panic.

Sure, 2013 TV135  is 1,300 feet across – making it about as wide as 4 football fields – but the space agency reported that’s barely big enough to cause damage across the globe.

“We believe anything larger than one to two kilometers [about 0.6 to 1.2 miles] could have worldwide effects,” NASA said in a statement. Additionally, the asteroid was around 4.2 million miles away, which is 15 times more than the distance between Earth and the Moon! The asteroid barely scored a 1 out 10 on the Torino Impact Hazard Scale, which measures the danger of asteroids if they were to impact.

Well, that was last time. When 2013 TV135 heads back to Earth in 2032, will we be in danger then? Hardly at all! NASA estimates there is a 99.998% chance nothing will happen, and they are working on bringing their confidence levels to 100%. “This is a relatively new discovery,” said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program. “With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future.”

Featured image courtesy of State Farm on Flickr. Image of asteroid diagram courtesy of NASA.