NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has just announced that they have discovered an asteroid that will pass near the Earth on October 31. While it will zip by us at a safe distance, at approximately 280,000 miles (450,000km) away, just outside of the Moon’s orbit, the asteroid is troubling in that it was only detected on October 10, less than two weeks ago.
While NASA says that the only other flyby of a large object isn’t expected until 2027, the implications of the late detection of the upcoming asteroid 2015 TB145, a 1,475 foot (450m) wide rock, are troubling. In 2013, a far smaller asteroid, the 45 meter (148′) 367943 Duende, passed much closer to the Earth, at a mere 27,700km (17,200 miles) — just inside Earth’s ring of satellites in geosynchronous orbit. However this much smaller object was detected a full year before it’s close pass to Earth, of which begs the question of how many other large-scale objects, like 2015 TB145, are we missing?
NASA also reports that 2015 TB145’s orbit is extremely eccentric, like that of a comet, and that it it will pass by Earth at 35km/s (22 miles/s), five times faster than the average satellite in Earth’s orbit. NASA also plans on taking advantage of the situation: because of the object’s size and relative proximity to Earth, they will be able to make valuable observations of the asteroid. “The flyby presents a truly outstanding scientific opportunity to study the physical properties of this object,” according to NASA’s Radar Observations Planning release.
The image depicts the orbit of Asteroid 2015 TB145