Asteroid 2013 TX68 will be passing by Earth again at a safe distance in March 5.
The previous flyby was several years ago at a safe distance of about 1.3 million miles (2 million kilometers), but the one in the next few weeks could be much closer.
How much closer will the asteroid in March be is hard to say, could fly past Earth as far out as 9 million miles (14 million kilometers) or as close as 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers). The difference between this distances is due to the short time the asteroid was track after its discovery, this makes a wide range of possible trajectories for the object, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) from NASA.
But one thing the researchers are sure of, there is no possibility that this object could impact the planet during its flyby this year. The asteroid is returning on September 28, 2017 and the impact is most likely them, even though the odds are 1 in 250 million. The upcoming flybys in 2046 and 2097 have even less likely odds to make an impact on Earth.
“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 at NASA’s Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS) at JPL. “I fully expect any future observations to reduce the probability even more,” he added.
The asteroid was discovered by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey on October 6, 2013, as it approached Earth on the nighttime side for a short amount of time, and then passed into daytime sky where it cannot be seen. Asteroid 2013 TX68 could only be tracked for three days after its discovery. Due to the small tracking time, the scientist cannot predict its precise orbit around the sun and can only be sure that it will not impact Earth.
The scientists at CNEOS also said that there is a chance that this time the object will be picked by their asteroid search telescopes and provide the team invaluable information. If this happens, they can now define the orbit around the sun in a more precisely way and not have those wide ranges in their possible distances anymore.
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory