Once again, NASA is disappointing doomsday prophets with its data-and-science obsession. The space agency said on Tuesday that an asteroid spotted for the first time just a few years ago could make a very close pass by Earth next month but that it won't smash into us.
Asteroid 2013 TX68 will make its latest close pass by Earth on March 5. The 100-foot (30 meters) long space rock could fly by at the comfortable distance of 9 million miles (14 million kilometers) or a little too close for comfort at just 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers). That wide range is due to the fact that scientists were able to track the asteroid only for a short time when it was first discovered in 2013.
But even with the small amount of data on the asteroid's trajectory, NASA is pouring cold water on some of the more paranoid corners of YouTube and the Internet where people believe there's still a chance that 2013 TX68 could hit the Earth, perhaps bringing the End Times with it. In a release, the agency said there's no possibility that this object could slam into Earth during the flyby next month. However, there's a 1-in-250-million chance it could hit Earth on its next pass in 2017, and even smaller odds for passes in 2046 and 2097.
"The possibilities of collision on any of the three future flyby dates are far too small to be of any real concern," said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS). "I fully expect any future observations to reduce the probability even more."