While astronomers are doing a very good job by looking for stars, planets, and monitoring asteroids, all of it is kind of in vain. So far, even if we are to know in due time that an asteroid is going to collide with Earth we don’t really have a way of stopping it. So we’d only be informed of our impending destruction.
But so far we’re golden. NASA said that no asteroid in the foreseeable future will be colliding with our planet. And they kept saying that until this morning, when they admitted that the asteroid passing by Earth today, TX68 might be colliding with Earth in 2017. And Bruce Willis won’t be there to sacrifice himself to save us.
This year’s near miss
Currently plummeting through space towards Earth, the asteroid discovered in 2013 and named TX68 is about 100 feet in diameter. While it has no chances of colliding with our own floating space rock, TX68 and its parameters have already been miscalculated a few times in the past week.
Initially, NASA said that the asteroid will be passing at about 11,000 miles from Earth, about 21 times closer to Earth than the moon. More recent calculations, however, put it at about nine million miles from our blue, watery planet. A third round of calculations, completed today, showed it flying three million miles from Earth.
Also mistaking the date by three days (initially they said it would pass by on the 5th of March, but they changed the date to today), the team from Nasa’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California used the Pan-STARRS asteroid survey to better figure out the asteroid’s trajectory.
Next year is iffy
While a couple of months ago the space agency assured us that the asteroid won’t be hitting the planet in 2017 despite it passing far closer to our planet than this year, seeing as the asteroid has proven itself particularly hard to track NASA warned that they can’t be sure of that anymore.
Of course, they are convinced that their old calculations were correct, but seeing TX68’s level of unpredictability they are having second thoughts. There is a huge difference between 11,000 miles and three million miles, and being two days off is also quite discouraging.
But not all hope is lost. First of all, the asteroid has far greater chances not to hit us. Second of all, NASA’s predictions might have been wrong about how close it will come by next year, and might be even farther away. And last but not least, even though Bruce Willis might not be here to save us, at least two governments (US and Russian) are working on ways to stop asteroids from colliding with our planet.
Image source: Wikimedia