An Asteroid, first spotted five years ago by the Pan-STARRS telescope, flew past earth this morning narrowly missing the ring of communications satellites orbiting at 22,236 miles above the Earth’s surface.The asteroid, designated 2012 TC4, gave asteroid trackers around the world an opportunity to test their ability to operate as a coordinated international asteroid warning network.
The aim of the project is to encourage astronomers – both professional and amateur – to work together to identify potential real asteroid-impact threats.
It made its closest approach to Earth over Antarctica at 06:42 BST this morning, passing at a distance of approximately 26,000 miles – a little over one-tenth the distance to the Moon.
2012 TC4 was first spotted by the Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii in 2012, but its orbit meant that it could not be tracked.
Observers with the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory were the first to recapture 2012 TC4, in late July 2017, using one of their large 8-meter aperture telescopes.
Since then, observers around the world have been tracking the object as it approaches Earth and reporting their observations to the Minor Planet Center.
No asteroid currently known is predicted to impact Earth for the next 100 years, NASA said.
One of the biggest reminders that such small rocky bodies orbiting the sun pose a threat to Earth came on Feb. 15, 2013.
An asteroid many times brighter than the sun streaked across the early morning sky over Chelyabinsk, Russia.Earth has been struck by asteroids and meteors repeatedly over its 4.5 billion year lifespan.
The most famous event was the sixty mile-wide space rock that struck the coast of Mexico around 65 million years ago and is thought to have lead to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
But there have been more recent, less dramatic examples.