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by ibgames

EARTHDATE: October 22, 2017

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by Hazed

An asteroid passed very close to the Earth on October 12. It came within 26,000 miles of the planet, which is one tenth the distance to the moon. It’s not that far above the altitude where communications satellites orbit.

This made it the perfect opportunity for the early warning system of a global asteroid tracking network to be put to the test.

NASA announced that the asteroid, called TC4, was not a threat to Earth, but that they intended to use its close pass as an opportunity to test how the international observer teams coordinate when they track the body. The optical and radar tracking is part of a volunteer global asteroid impact early-warning system.

Michael Kelley, program scientist and NASA PDCO lead for the TC4 observation campaign, explained: “Asteroid trackers are using this flyby to test the worldwide asteroid detection and tracking network, assessing our capability to work together in response to finding a potential real asteroid-impact threat.”

As TC4 approached Earth, it was tracked in wavelengths from visible to near-infrared to radar. All data was sent to the Minor Planet Center.

Not everything went to plan during this test. Not all telescopes worked as they should – in particular, the big radar system in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, was out of action because of hurricane damage. But overall, the exercise was considered a success. Researchers will now analyse all the data collected about TC4, the help make future predictions more accurate.

Source: https://newatlas.com/2012tc4-asteroid-nasa-esa-global-network-tracking-test/51723/

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