A house-size asteroid 2012 TC4 is to zoom pass Earth at an approximate distance of 42,000 kilometers on October 12, four days prior to ‘doomsday’ — a prediction by conspiracy theorist stating beginning of end of the earth.
However, the scientists are taking the opportunity to test the ability of a growing observing network to communicate and coordinate their optical and radar observation in the real scenario.
The test to check global asteroid impact early warning system is a volunteer project. The program is an initiative of NASA.
Initially, NASA-funded asteroid observers or ones supported by the NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) were part of the program. But now, space institutions around the world are now involved in the project.
Vishnu Reddy, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, leading the 2012 TC4 campaign said "This campaign is a team effort involving more than a dozen observatories, universities and labs around the globe.”
Reddy added, "This effort will exercise the entire system, to include the initial and follow-up observations and international communications."
According to predictions of the scientists asteroid 2012 TC4 poses no risk to Earth.
The asteroid is expected to pass Earth just above the orbital altitude of communications satellites. However, some scientists say the TC4 can fly as close as 6,800 kilometers.
Scientists monitoring the movement of the asteroid have estimated it to be15 to 30 meters in size.
The asteroid 2012 RC4 was first discovered the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) on Hawaii back in 2012. But, it traveled out of the range of asteroid-tracking telescopes shortly after it was discovered.
The 2012 TC4 was recaptured again in late July by European Space Agency and European Southern Observatory, using one of their large 8-meter aperture telescope.