This is a Test: Asteroid Tracking Network Observes Close Approach

On Oct. 12 EDT
(Oct. 11 PDT), a small asteroid designated 2012
TC4 will safely pass by Earth
at a distance of approximately
26,000 miles (42,000 kilometers). This is a
little over one
tenth the distance to the Moon and just above the orbital
altitude of communications satellites. This encounter with TC4
is being used by
asteroid trackers around the world to test
their ability to operate as a coordinated
asteroid warning network.

2012 TC4 is
estimated to be 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 meters)
in size. Orbit prediction experts
say the asteroid poses no
risk of impact with Earth. Nonetheless, its close
approach to
Earth is an opportunity to test the ability of a growing
observing network to communicate and coordinate its
optical and radar
observations in a real scenario.