A house-sized asteroid will zoom past the Earth in October

'Damned close' asteroid will miss Earth this time, say astronomers

A small asteroid will pass close to Earth in October

Earth will dodge another interstellar bullet in October, according to the European Space Agency, when an asteroid the size of a house will pass the planet at the relatively near distance of just 44,000km away.

The asteroid is forecast to speed inside the moon's orbit at 27,300 miles (43,935km) - an eighth of the distance between the Earth and the moon.

The asteroid completes an orbit around the sun every 609 days.

It first passed Earth in October 2012 at double the distance, before disappearing.

"This is the flawless target for such an exercise because while we know the orbit of 2012 TC4 well enough to be absolutely certain it will not impact Earth, we haven't established its exact path just yet", said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. If it continues to narrow the distance between its orbit and the Earth then the next time it appears in five or so years time, it could strike the planet.

"It's damn close", said Rolf Densing, who heads up the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

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The campaign will exercise the worldwide network of observatories and research organisations working on planetary defence.

"This time we are adding in another layer of effort, using this asteroid flyby to test the worldwide asteroid detection and tracking network, assessing our capability to work together in response to finding a potential real asteroid threat".

A 40-metre space rock that was slightly bigger than TC4 caused the largest Earth impact in recent history when it exploded over Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908.

In 2013, a meteoroid exploded in Chelyabinsk, central Russian Federation, injuring 1200 people and shattering the windows of nearly 5000 buildings.

Measuring between 49 to 98 meters long, the travelling rock is similar in size to the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013.

About 1,500 people were injured seriously enough to seek medical treatment, mainly by broken glass from windows that were blown in when the shock wave arrived.

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