2013 TX68 an asteroid about 30 meters wide is due to pass Earth on March 5th and hopefully we will be viewable with a telescope.
The asteroid will pass somewhere between 11,000 miles away but could be as far as 9 million miles away. Why such a large range?
Nasa only discovered 2013 TX68 about three years ago, so their trajectory projections are still using fairly limited data. Even so, there is no chance that this asteroid will collide with Earth.
It was first discovered on the night-time side of the planet but then after only 3 days, it moved into the daytime side of the plant making monitoring it impossible.
Even with that short time-frame, a rough projection of it trajectory was mapped out. Of course there is a margin of error with the limited data. It could come close enough to be seen but it also could pass far enough away that it will not be able to be spotted.
“This asteroid’s orbit is quite uncertain, and it will be hard to predict where to look for it,” said Paul Chodas, the manager of NASA’s Centre for Near Earth Object Studies. “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.”
You can see the two projected (and both very safe) paths the asteroid could take below:
With what we know about the asteroids possible trajectories there exists about a one in 250 million chance that the asteroid could impact the earth in a later flyby in 2017.
“The possibilities of collision on any of the three future flyby dates are far too small to be of any real concern,” said Chodas. “I fully expect any future observations to reduce the probability even more.”
What If A Collision Occurs?
Say 2013 TX68 does hit us? Well, it’s around twice the size of the asteroid that broke up in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, three years ago. That asteroid released a shock wave that broke windows and damaged buildings, while injuring 1,500 people.
If asteroid 2013 TX68 did hit Earth’s atmosphere, NASA predicts it would produce an air burst about twice the energy of the Chelyabinsk event.