NASA has dramatically changed its mind about the risks posed by asteroid 2013 TX68 , a 100ft-wide rock which is currently heading towards Earth. NASA’s initial estimate showed the whale-sized space rock may skim past Earth at just 11,000 miles (17,000 km), which is around 21 times closer to Earth than the moon, but NASA admitted this estimate may be widely inaccurate and the asteroid may also pass Earth as far out as 9 million miles (14 million km).
Now, a new prediction for 2013 TX68, first spotted when it flew by Earth two years ago, is that it will fly by roughly 3 million miles (5 million kilometers) from our planet.
NASA noted that additional observations of asteroid 2013 TX68 have been obtained, refining its orbital path and moving the date of the asteroid’s Earth flyby from March 5 to March 8.
The observations, from archived images provided by the Nasa-funded Pan-STARRS asteroid survey, enabled scientists at Nasa’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to refine their earlier flyby and distance predictions, reconfirming that the asteroid poses no threat to Earth.
“We already knew this asteroid, 2013 TX68, would safely fly past Earth in early March, but this additional data allow us to get a better handle on its orbital path,” said Paul Chodas, manager of CNEOS.