In just two months time, Nasa will test its response to a legitimate threat against the Earth.
The threat, a small asteroid expected to fly past the Earth in October, is highly anticipated by Nasa who are excited for the opportunity to test out one of the most important new systems in the world, which will be vital if an asteroid ever flies directly towards the Earth.
Amazingly the planetary defence system aims to strike the asteroid as it passes the Earth thus changing the course of its orbit and pushing it out of the direction of Earth, reports The Independent.
Of course with this asteroid, it doesn’t necessarily need to be pushed out of the direction of Earth as it will fly past anyhow, however it will give the scientists over at Nasa an opportunity to test their devices and study the asteroid from close up – a chance which seldom comes about.
Paul Chodas, manager of Nasa’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, said:
This is the perfect 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.
It will be incumbent upon the observatories to get a fix on the asteroid as it approaches, and work together to obtain follow-up observations than make more refined asteroid orbit determinations possible.
The rock which is expected to shoot past Earth on October 12 is named 2012 TC4 and is bigger than 10 meters wide.
Although scientists are unsure whether the rock will fly by at 4,200 miles or 127,000 miles away – they do know the Earth is definitely safe
Interestingly, the lack of knowledge about this asteroid means it is an even more realistic test should we ever have to blast away an actual threat to our home planet.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.