NASA | JPL-Caltech | Planetary Defense Coordination Office | 2017 Jul 28
NASA scientists are excited about the upcoming close flyby of a small asteroid and plan to use its upcoming October close approach to Earth as an opportunity not only for science, but to test NASA's network of observatories and scientists who work with planetary defense.
The target of all this attention is asteroid 2012 TC4 -- a small asteroid estimated to be between 30 and 100 feet (10 and 30 meters) in size. On Oct. 12, TC4 will safely fly past Earth. Even though scientists cannot yet predict exactly how close it will approach, they are certain it will come no closer than 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) from the surface of Earth. The asteroid has been out of range of telescopes since 2012.
"Scientists have always appreciated knowing when an asteroid will make a close approach to and safely pass the Earth because they can make preparations to collect data to characterize and learn as much as possible about it," said Michael Kelley, program scientist and NASA Headquarters lead for the TC4 observation campaign. "This time we are adding in another layer of effort, using this asteroid flyby to test the worldwide asteroid detection and tracking network, assessing our capability to work together in response to finding a potential real asteroid threat." ...
NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office
Upcoming Asteroid Flyby Will Help NASA Planetary Defense Network
University of Arizona | Lunar and Planetary Laboratory | 2017 Jul 28
For the first time, an actual, but harmless, space rock will be used for an observational campaign to test NASA's network of observatories and scientists who work with planetary defense.