A house-sized asteroid on Thursday made a close shave with Earth, but experts have warned that humans may not be so lucky in 2079 when there is chance of the space rock smashing into the Earth.
Following yesterday's pass, the asteroid's next 'close-approaches' to Earth will take place in 2019, 2050 and 2079.
Dubbed as 2012 TC4, the asteroid safely passed by Earth on Thursday at a distance of approximately 42,000 kilometres, just above the orbital altitude of communications satellites.
According to reports, asteroid was about 30-100 feet (10-30 metres) in size, and flew by at just one-eighth of the distance between Earth and the moon.
The fly-by of the asteroid gave asteroid trackers around the world an opportunity to test their ability to operate as a coordinated international asteroid warning network.
Rudiger Jehn, a mission analyst at the European Space Agency, said, “We know today that it will also not hit the Earth in the year 2050, but the close flyby in 2050 might deflect the asteroid such that it could hit the Earth in the year 2079.”
The odds of an impact 62 years from now are now placed at about one in 750.
Yesterday’s asteroid was discovered by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) on Hawaii back in 2012. However, 2012 TC4 travelled out of the range of asteroid-tracking telescopes shortly after it was discovered.
Based on the observations they were able to make in 2012, asteroid trackers predicted that it should come back into view in 2017.
Observers with the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory were the first to recapture 2012 TC4, in late July 2017, using one of their large 8-meter aperture telescopes.
Since then, observers around the world have been tracking the object as it approaches Earth and reporting their observations to the Minor Planet Center.
According to NASA, no asteroid currently known is predicted to impact Earth for the next 100 years.