Asteroid 2012 TC4 was first discovered back in 2012. It was first spotted by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) in Hawaii. 2012 TC4 will cruise past us at a distance of 26,000 miles away. That is 8x closer to us than the moon.
Studies have been done about near earth objects (NEO) since 1970. “NASA-funded survey projects have found more than 95 percent of the known catalog of over 15,000 NEOs.”
2012 TC4 poses us no real threat as it is only 50 to 100 feet in size. A similar size NEO hit a town in Russia back in 2013. It injured 1500 people and caused property damage to 7,200 buildings.
Nasa is excited at the prospect of studying an asteroid so close and there are plans to test it as it flies by. Scientists are also looking at this asteroid as a good drill to test the readiness of our planet for when a real planet killer comes our way. They will be tracking and judging our ability to work together during this upcoming flyby.
Vishnu Reddy, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, is leading the 2012 TC4 campaign. Reddy is the principal investigator for a NASA-funded near-Earth asteroid characterization project.
“This campaign is a team effort that involves more than a dozen observatories, universities, and labs around the globe so we can collectively learn the strengths and limitations of our near-Earth object observation capabilities,” he said. “This effort will exercise the entire system, to include the initial and follow-up observations, precise orbit determination, and international communications.”
In September, asteroid observers were able to conduct a “pre-test” of coordinated tracking of the close approach of a much larger asteroid known as 3122 Florence. Florence, one of the largest known NEOs, at 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) in size, passed by Earth on Sept. 1 at 18 times the distance to the Moon. Coordinated observations of this asteroid revealed, among other things, that Florence has two moons.