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The Earth is Safe: NASA Reveals Massive Asteroid Will Not Crash into Our Planet in 2032

The Earth is Safe: NASA Reveals Massive Asteroid Will Not Crash into Our Planet in 2032

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First Posted: Oct 21, 2013 07:30 AM EDT
Asteroids
Don't worry, the Earth is safe. Although the massive 1,300-foot-wide asteroid that passed near our planet last month is due to return in 2032, the probability that it will impact Earth is only one in 63,000. Those are pretty good odds. (Photo : ESA - P.Carril)

Don't worry, the Earth is safe. Although the massive 1,300-foot-wide asteroid that passed near our planet last month is due to return in 2032, the probability that it will impact Earth is only one in 63,000. Those are pretty good odds.

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Despite these odds, though, this asteroid has been making quite the buzz around the Internet and news sources in recent days. The asteroid itself was first discovered on Oct. 8, 2013. Yet researchers found that on Sept. 16 it came within 4.2 million miles of our planet. Scientists have calculated that its orbit carries it as far out as about three quarters of the distance to Jupiter's orbit and as close to the sun as Earth's orbit.

Named 2013 TV135, the asteroid's path is still largely unknown. Yet scientists are relatively sure that it should be back in Earth's neighborhood by 2032. The object itself should be easily observable in the coming months, which means that astronomers will have a much better feel of where the asteroid will end up in the coming years as they continue to make observations. Even now, though, researchers believe that it's very unlikely that the asteroid will be anywhere close to hitting Earth when it does reappear in 20 years.

"To put it another way, that puts the current probability of no impact in 2032 at about 99.998 percent," said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a news release. "This is a relatively new discovery. With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future."

Currently, NASA's Near-Earth Observations Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," is keeping an eye on the asteroid. This program discovers near-earth objects, characterizes a subset of them and then identifies their orbits to determine if they might be potential hazards.

As observations continue, we'll likely see more information pour in. Until then, though, NASA is keeping an eye on the asteroid as it continues its orbit through our solar system.

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