We’ll skip straight to the good news: NASA says Earth is likely safe from Asteroid 2013 TV135. Calculations put the newly discovered asteroid’s chances of hitting the planet in 2032 at incredibly small — 1 in 63,000 — despite some alarmist news reports.
“To put it another way, that puts the current probability of no impact in 2032 at about 99.998 percent,” stated Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office.
“This is a relatively new discovery. With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future.”
Asteroid 2013 TV135 in a series of images snapped by amateur astronomer Peter Lake.
The asteroid was first spotted on Oct. 8 by scientists at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Ukraine. It’s 1,300 meters (400 feet) in diameter and cycles in an orbit that goes three-quarters of the way out to Jupiter, and then back again towards its closest approach near Earth’s orbit.
The asteroid came within 4.2 million miles (6.7 million kilometers) of Earth on Sept. 16. Amateur astronomer Peter Lake uploaded a video (which you can see above) based on a few pictures he took Oct. 17-18.
“Its important to remember that new asteroids (this one has only 9 days of arc) usually don’t stay on the Torino Scale (the risk register) for long, as further data updates increase the precision of the orbit, and usually quickly remove them as potential impactors,” Lake added in a blog post.
There are many, many international efforts to watch asteroid paths and disseminate the information to the public. One of them is NASA’s Asteroid Watch website, where you can get the latest information on nearby space rocks.
Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.