'Damned close' asteroid will miss Earth this time, say astronomers

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It is still far from the scenario of Armageddon, but a small asteroid (about the size of a house, between 15 and 30 meters) will pass very close to Earth on October 12, 2017, announced the european space Agency (ESA) in a press release.

"We are certain that there is no risk that the object touches the Ground, so there is no danger of any kind", said to AFP Detlef Koschny, co-director of the segment Objects neos (Near-Earth Objects) of the ESA.

The asteroid is dubbed 2012 TC4 and first flitted past our planet in October 2012 at about double the distance before disappearing from view.

Astronomers recently spotted asteroid 2012 TC4 under a collaboration between the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) to locate faint objects that might strike Earth. It will be just a little beyond the "belt" where cross the geostationary satellites.

"It's damn close", said European Space Operations Centre head honcho Rolf Densing.

It is travelling at speeds of around 30,000 mph (14 km per second). "The farthest satellites are 36,000km out, so this is indeed a close miss".

For researchers, the near miss will provide a rare chance to test Earth's "planetary defence" systems - which at this point are focused on early warning rather than active asteroid deflection. The 2012 TC4 Observing Campaign is part of a larger global initiative led by NASA.

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Asteroids are rocky bodies left over from the formation of our solar system some 4.5 billion years ago.

In 2013, a meteoroid exploded in Chelyabinsk, central Russian Federation, injuring 1200 people and shattering the windows of nearly 5000 buildings.

The resulting shockwave blew out the windows of almost 5,000 buildings and injured more than 1,200 people.

'Physical properties of an asteroid (composition, structure, size) and its velocity relative to the Earth will influence the effects on an impact. Also, it would likely behave very differently to the Chelyabinsk object.

But Earth's atmosphere stretches only a few hundred kilometres far, and TC4 will comfortably miss it.

Paul Chodas, a manager working on the project, said: 'This is the flawless target for such an exercise because while we know the orbit of 2012 TC4 well enough to be absolutely certain it will not impact Earth, we haven't established its exact path just yet.