Is an asteroid hitting Earth soon? How big is Asteroid 2013 TX68 and why didn’t we hear about it until now? An asteroid is expected to come closer to us than most orbiting communications satellites in early March. The asteroid, called “2013 TX68,” will pass close to Earth on March 5. Just how close is still up for debate. Doomsday theorists are seizing on this opportunity, and NASA’s uncertainty about the asteroid’s orbit is providing a lot of fuel for end-of-the-world fires.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Asteroid Could Come as Close as a Mere 11,000 Miles From Earth, Closer Than Orbiting Satellites
Asteroid 2013 TX68 could come as close to Earth as a mere 11,000 miles away, according to NASA. That’s just two times the Earth’s own diameter, which is closer than orbiting communications satellites, Earth Sky reported.
2. Scientists Don’t Expect an Impact, But They Also Can’t Precisely Predict Its Orbit
Scientists don’t expect the asteroid to hit Earth — this time. However, they can’t precisely predict its orbit because when it was first spotted, it wasn’t tracked for very long, NASA reported. The asteroid was first discovered on October 6, 2013. It was tracked for three days and then passed into daytime sky, where it couldn’t be observed. That makes predicting its precise orbit a lot tougher. When it flew past Earth in 2013, it was 1.3 million miles away.
3. An Impact Wouldn’t Cause Doomsday-Sized Damage, But It Could Injure Thousands of People
NASA described the asteroid as “small,” about 100 feet in diameter. However, asteroids this size can still do damage. The asteroid that hit Chelyabinsk, Russia three years ago was almost half that size at 65 feet in diameter. It broke up in the atmosphere above Russia, but still caused significant damage. That asteroid caused more than 1,500 people to seek medical care and it damaged thousands of buildings, including breaking windows in six Russian cities, Earth Sky reported. This asteroid would produce a shock wave about twice the size.
If you want to test out an asteroid’s potential crater impact, this handy little simulator can help.
4. The Odds of the Asteroid Hitting the Earth in 2017 Are Better Than the Odds of Winning the Powerball
The asteroid will pass by Earth again in September 2017, NASA reported, and this time it actually has a chance of hitting Earth. The odds of impact then are 1 in 250 million. By comparison, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are about 1 in 300 million.
This isn’t the only asteroid that passes Earth, it’s just the closest. Asteroids pass by Earth quite frequently and NASA even has a widget you can install on your computer to keep track of them. You can get the widget here.
5. Doomsday Theorists Are Jumping All Over This Asteroid
Doomsday theorists aren’t about to let this one go. NASA’s wide prediction for the asteroid’s orbit — between 11,000 and 9 million miles away from Earth — is giving plenty of fuel to end-of-the-world fires. Doomsday theorists are saying that NASA’s knowledge of its orbit is too tenuous and so they can’t trust statements that it won’t hit or pose any danger, Inquisitr reported. Sites like Before It’s News are claiming NASA’s not being up front about the asteroid’s danger. Astronomers, however, are saying that everything’s going to be just fine.