So, remember 2013 TX68? That 100-foot wide asteroid that was set to zip past Earth at a distance of something between 15,000 and 3 million miles? Sometime Tuesday in fact?
Turns out, that already happened on Monday morning, NASA scientists revealed today.
At around 8:42 a.m. EST, 2013 TX68 passed Earth about 2.54 million miles away, according to researchers at Minor Planet Center in Cambridge Massachusetts. By their calculations, the asteroid’s diameter is somewhere between 56 and 177 feet.
As Space.com points out, the moon orbits our planet at about 238,900 miles away. So 2013 TX68 was nowhere near close to hitting us.
Scientists predicted that would be the case, although they couldn’t be 100 percent certain just how close the asteroid might get — hence the 15,000 mile minimum estimate. NASA astronomers never had much of a chance to really determine what 2013 TX68’s orbit was, since the only previous observations were made in October of 2013, when the asteroid was first discovered.
Back then, in fact, 2013 TX68 flew by the Earth at a stone’s throw of just 1.3 million miles.
Were the asteroid of ever actually come into contact with Earth, it would likely cause quite a bit of damage. The asteroid that broke up over Chelyabinsk, Russia, three years ago tore up the windows and sides of buildings and ended up injuring more than 1,000 people. That asteroid was just 65 feet wide. 2013 TX68 would probably streak into the Earth’s atmosphere twice as hard.
2013 TX68 will come back around Earth in 2017. Scientists right now peg the date as September 28, but seeing how they predicted wrongly this time around, it’s probably wise to add a day or two to the margin of error.