The house-sized asteroid that just passed by Earth, nearly as close as many satellites in orbit, will be back - and a future visit might lead to it taking up permanent residency here.
The asteroid, dubbed 2012 TC4, is roughly 45 to 100 feet in size and is traveling at around 16,000 miles per hour. The moon is about 385,000 kilometers (239,227 miles) above the Earth.
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As its name suggests, the asteroid was first spotted in 2012 by a telescope in Hawaii. NASA noted that the asteroid would not impact Earth, and the closest the rock came was when it passed over Antarctica at 1:42 a.m. ET on Thursday.
"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".
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NASA estimated 2012 TC4 measures between 10 and 15 meters (33 and 50 feet) in diameter.
If a mid-sized or large asteroid did hit Earth, it could cause catastrophic damage to a populated area or even cause global mass extinction, Newsweek reported. As of right now, no known asteroid is projected to hit Earth in the next 100 years.
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"It's interesting to study such a small object, but it's also very appropriate, because we're more likely to see a small asteroid heading for Earth impact than a large one, simply because there are far more small ones than large ones", Chodas continued.