February 27, 2016 – Humanity is expected to survive its close encounter with a space rock next week – but we’re not out of danger just yet.
NASA has dramatically changed its mind about the risks posed by asteroid 2013 TX68 , a 100ft-wide rock which is currently heading towards Earth.
UPDATED ON FEB. 25 AT 2:40 P.M. PT: Additional observations of asteroid 2013 TX68 have been obtained, refining its orbital path and moving the date of the asteroid’s Earth flyby from March 5 to March 8.
It said there was “a chance” it could plough into our planet next year when it makes another flyby.
However, we are glad to report that NASA thinks the odds of a collision on September 28, 2017, are “no more than 1-in-250-million”.
It it did hit the planet, the asteroid would probably explode in the atmosphere, unleashing as much energy as a powerful nuclear bomb and wiping out anything unlucky enough to be beneath it.
“The possibilities of collision on any of the three future flyby dates are far too small to be of any real concern,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for near earth orbit studies .
“I fully expect any future observations to reduce the probability even more.”
Late last night, NASA published a tweet in which it claimed that Earth would be safe from this asteroid for at least the next century.
However, astronomers cannot precisely predict its movements and have given it a “condition code” of eight out of a possible 10, which means they cannot accurately predict its movements.
Experts cannot say for sure whether the space rock will zoom by at the terrifyingly close distance of 11,000 miles – or fly wide of the planet by 1.3 million miles.
“This asteroid’s orbit is quite uncertain, and it will be hard to predict where to look for it,” Chodas added.
“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.”