NASA: Asteroid Will Fly By 3,000,000 Miles--or 'No Closer Than 15,000 Miles'--From Earth

By Barbara Hollingsworth | March 7, 2016 | 2:13pm EST
(Source: NASA)

( – A 100-foot-wide asteroid named TX68 will safely pass Earth on Tuesday about three million miles away, but it could come as close as 15,000 miles to the planet’s surface, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

“CNEOS’ new prediction for 2013 TX68 is that it will fly by roughly 3 million miles (5 million kilometers) from our planet,” NASA said in a February 25 update, which also changed the asteroid’s projected flyby date from March 5 to March 8.

“There is still a chance that it could pass closer, but certainly no closer than 15,000 miles (24,000 kilometers) above Earth’s surface,” according to the space agency.

The asteroid flyby will happen on the same day that a supermoon total solar eclipse, the only one that will occur in 2016, darkens Indonesia and parts of the north Pacific Ocean.  A partial eclipse will be visible in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa, according to NASA.

The Feb. 25 update put the trajectory of the asteroid some six million miles closer to Earth than NASA’s February 2 prediction that TX68 would pass Earth “as far out as 9 million miles (14 million kilometers) or as close as 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers).”

However, NASA says it is certain that TX68 will not collide with Earth.

“There is no concern whatsoever regarding this asteroid – unless you were interested in seeing it with a telescope,” CNEOS manager Paul Chodas said in a press release.

Chodas explained NASA’s changing predictions, saying that “this asteroid’s orbit is quite uncertain, and it will be hard to predict where to look for it.”

NASA also predicted that there’s “no more than [a] 1-in-250-million” chance that TX68 will collide with Earth during its next flyby on Sept. 28, 2017.

TX68, which was discovered in by Italian astronomer Marco Micheli in 2013, is larger than the 65-foot asteroid that entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia on Feb. 15, 2013 with the explosive force of about half a million tons of TNT, NASA said.

Of the 12,992 near-Earth objects within the solar system, NASA classifies 1,683 as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids. 

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