A big asteroid that already whizzed by Earth last month unnoticed will return much closer in 19 years, but NASA says we don't need to worry about it.
MIAMI — A newly discovered asteroid made a "close" approach to Earth this week — at least in astronomical terms — and it is likely to come back around in 2032, but there is only a miniscule risk of it smashing into the planet, NASA said on Friday.
The asteroid known as 2013 TV135 came within 4.2 million miles of Earth on Wednesday, the U.S. space agency said.
It was discovered on Oct. 8 by astronomers at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Ukraine. Astronomers have only a week's worth of observations to go on, but believe its orbit will bring it back to Earth's neighborhood in 2032.
The probability of the asteroid hitting Earth is only one in 63,000, they calculated.
"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 Pasadena, California.
With additional observations in the coming months, scientists may be able to better calculate the asteroid's orbit and reduce their estimate of the risk or rule out any risk entirely, NASA said.
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The asteroid is estimated to be 1,300 feet in size and its orbit is believed to carry 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, NASA said.
The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, known as "Spaceguard," detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth to determine if any could pose harm. The newly discovered asteroid is one of 10,332 near-Earth objects identified so far.
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