Near Earth Asteroid Flyby (2012 TC4)

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Near Earth Asteroid Flyby (2012 TC4)

Postby bystander » Sat Jul 29, 2017 2:20 am

Asteroid Flyby Will Benefit NASA Detection & Tracking Network
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.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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ESO: A Very Close Encounter (2012 TC4)

Postby bystander » Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:41 pm

A Very Close Encounter
ESO Announcement | 2017 Aug 09

Click to view full size image 1 or image 2
Credit: ESO / ESA NEOCC / Olivier Hainaut (ESO),
Marco Micheli (ESA) and Detlef Koschny (ESA)

Back in October 2012, the near-Earth asteroid 2012 TC4 had a close encounter with Earth. It passed our planet at a distance only a quarter of that between the Earth and the Moon. In October 2017, this small asteroid, with a size of only about 15 to 30 metres, will return for another very close fly-by, making it the perfect object to test the asteroid detection and tracking network.

As 2012 TC4 could not be observed for several years, its orbit was not very well known. In particular, astronomers could not yet predict just how close it will come to Earth during its next fly-by in 2017. So finding it again and observing it in detail are crucial to learning more about how close it will get to Earth and refining our understanding of the path it will take.

Because the asteroid is so small and is still far away it is very faint and hence hard to spot. Nevertheless, using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers were able to obtain this image of our future visitor for the first time in many years, and to compute its trajectory. This new observation implies a fly-by distance from the surface of the Earth of about 44 000 kilometres, corresponding to 6.85 Earth radii, on 12 October 2017.

ESO’s VLT is not the only telescope observing 2012 TC4. A major international observational campaign to identify and study this object is currently under way, taking advantage of its very close encounter. Now that the VLT has found 2012 TC4 again, a new, updated orbit is available. Various telescopes all over the world are now able to locate the asteroid, and will soon start to observe it, taking advantage of this rare opportunity to study an asteroid in such detail.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor


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