Friday, August 11, 2017

New observations of near-Earth asteroid 2012 TC4 reveal 0.1 LD flyby

New observations of near-Earth asteroid designated 2012 TC4 reveal it will fly past our planet at a very close distance of 0.13 LD (~50 100 km / 31 140 miles) at 05:42 UTC October 12, 2017. Current estimates suggest it should peak around mag 13 at closest approach. At the time of closest approach, 2012 TC4 will be over a point in the ocean south of Australia.
The asteroid was spotted recently for the first time since its discovery in 2012. The original observations revealed the asteroid’s next approach to our vicinity would be in October 2017 but its orbit meant that it could not be tracked during the last five years, leaving astronomers unsure on how close it would come, ESA reported.
Owing to the latest VLT observations by O. Hainaut, D. Koschny, and M. Micheli, 2012 TC4 is now recovered, the 2012 TC4 Observing Campaign announced August 6. The campaign is part of a larger international initiative led by NASA and an excellent opportunity to test the international ability to detect and track near-Earth objects and assess our ability to respond together to a real asteroid threat.
Asteroid 2012 TC4 recovered
Asteroid 2012 TC4 recovered in July/August 2017. Credit: ESO / ESA NEOCC / O. Hainaut (ESO), M. Micheli (ESA) & D. Koschny (ESA), CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
Initial observations of a potential object found on July 27, 2017 were confirmed on July 31 and August 5, 2017. The JPL small database browser now posts the close approach distance for October 12 as 0.000335 AU (0.13 LD, ~50 100 km, 31 140 miles) based on the addition of M. Micheli's and O. Hainaut's astrometric measurements, and the object's H-magnitude value near 26.7, corresponding to a diameter of around 15 meters for an object with an albedo of about 15%.

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