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article image100-foot diameter asteroid to pass close to Earth on March 5

By Karen Graham     Feb 6, 2016 in Science
A small asteroid that passed by Earth at a distance of 1.3 million miles away two years ago is set to make a return appearance on March 5. This time, it could come much closer to Earth, perhaps as close as 11,000 miles, says NASA.
Discovered by NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey on Oct. 6, 2013, the space rock is officially known as Asteroid 2013 TX68, and is estimated to be about 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter.
Two years ago the asteroid passed by Earth at a very comfortable distance of 1.3 million miles (2 million kilometers). At that time, it was only tracked for a short time. For this reason, scientists cannot predict the asteroid's orbit around the sun with too much accuracy, however, they do know that it cannot impact Earth during its flyby next month.
NASA's Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory say the actual path of the asteroid is projected to range anywhere from as close as 11,000 miles, and as far away as 9 million miles from Earth.
Graphic indicates the cloud of possible locations asteroid 2013 TX68 will be in at the time of its c...
Graphic indicates the cloud of possible locations asteroid 2013 TX68 will be in at the time of its closest approach to Earth during its flyby of our planet on March 5, 2016.
NASA/JPL-Caltech
But with such a wide variation in the projected path, CBS News is reporting NASA has calculated that on September 28, 2017, the asteroid could make impact, although the odds of that happening are about one in 250 million.
With the asteroid being 100 feet in diameter, it would likely burst apart in the atmosphere if it got too close. As a comparison, NASA says the asteroid that broke up in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, three years ago was 65 feet (20 meters) wide.
If asteroid 2013 TX68 were to enter the Earth's atmosphere, the air burst would have about twice the energy of the Chelyabinsk event. Paul Chodas, the manager of CNEOS said, "There is a chance that the asteroid will be picked up by our asteroid search telescopes when it safely flies past us next month, providing us with data to more precisely define its orbit around the sun."
Gizmodo is saying the most likely path will bring the asteroid within one million miles of Earth, but if we're lucky and everything goes just right, the asteroid could come as close as 11,000 miles, easily seen with a telescope.
More about Asteroid, march 5, NASA, asteroid 2013 TX68, uncertain orbit
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