NASA Warns That ‘Closest-Ever’ Asteroid Will Pass Earth Next Month

NASA warn that an asteroid will pass dangerously close to earth in March 2016

On March 5th, 2016, asteroid TX68 will be the closest ever flyby of an asteroid to ever approach the earth, researchers at NASA have said. 

The asteroid will pass by the planet at a distance of 11,000 miles (17,000 km).

Asteroid 2013 TX68 is currently estimated to be about 150 feet  (45 meters) across and has an estimated mass of about 130,000 metric tons. The space rock is traveling at about 32,211 miles per hour (51,839 kilometers per hour), relative to Earth.

The asteroid’s orbit is highly uncertain (condition code 7) and it will be hard to predict where to look for it, experts say.

According to NASA, if an asteroid of a size similar to that of 2013 TX68 were to impact Earth, it would release approximately 2.5 megatons of energy in the atmosphere and would be expected to cause regional devastation.

A comparison to the impact potential of an asteroid the size of 2013 TX68 could be made to the impact of a near-Earth object that occurred in 1908 in Tuguska, Siberia.

Known in the asteroid community as the “Tunguska Event,” this impact of an asteroid just slightly smaller than 2013 TX68 (approximately 100 – 130 feet/30-40 meters across) is believed to have flattened about 825 square miles (2200 square kilometers) of forest in and around the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia.

The asteroid was discovered by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey on Oct. 6, 2013, as it approached Earth on the nighttime side. After three days of tracking, the asteroid passed into the daytime sky and could no longer be observed. Because it was not tracked for very long, scientists cannot predict its precise orbit around the sun, but they do know that it cannot impact Earth during its flyby next month.