Asteroid 2013 TV135: A reality check

October 18, 2013, JPL/NASA

This diagram shows the orbit of asteroid 2013 TV135 (in blue), which has just a one-in-63,000 chance of impacting Earth. Its risk to Earth will likely be further downgraded as scientists continue their investigations. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
( —Newly discovered asteroid 2013 TV135 made a close approach to Earth on Sept. 16, when it came within about 4.2 million miles (6.7 million kilometers). The asteroid is initially estimated to be about 1,300 feet (400 meters) in size and its orbit carries it as far out as about three quarters of the distance to Jupiter's orbit and as close to the sun as Earth's orbit. It was discovered on Oct. 8, 2013, by astronomers working at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Ukraine. As of Oct. 14, asteroid 2013 TV135 is one of 10,332 near-Earth objects that have been discovered.

With only a week of observations for an orbital period that spans almost four years, its future orbital path is still quite uncertain, but this asteroid could be back in Earth's neighborhood in 2032. However, NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office states the probability this could then impact Earth is only one in 63,000. The object should be easily observable in the coming months and once additional observations are provided to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., the initial calculations will be improved and the most likely result will be a dramatic reduction, or complete elimination, of any risk of Earth impact.

"To put it another way, that puts the current probability of no impact in 2032 at about 99.998 percent," said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "This is a relatively new discovery. With more , I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future."

NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them and identifies their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

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3 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2013
orbit carries it as far out as about three quarters of the distance to Jupiter's orbit and as close to the sun as Earth's orbit

That means it's moving a bit faster than most asteroids when it reaches our neighborhood.

400 meters is a problematic size for us. It's small enough that it's hard to spot, but it's big enough that to cause serious damage. It would have too little gravity to make it easy to work on it, but it's massive enough that it would be hard to deflect it. It's like the anti-goldilocks size for an Earth crossing asteroid.
1 / 5 (12) Oct 18, 2013
they found it AFTER it can about 20 times the lunar distance. well, now that they know about it , seems fair to project certainty. but I still don't buy the bullshit about there being so 'few' near earth asteroids 1km+ in size. let alone 1000 feet (300km) in size or bigger. i don't think we can see even half of them. space is big.

REPEATED after the fact observations of aseteroids that come close to earth but missed are evidence of a higher error rate for our estimates than is currently agreed upon.
1 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2013
wouldn't it be horrible to put the webb up and to have So many asteroids so very close it seriously clouds it's field of vision
1 / 5 (11) Oct 20, 2013
let alone 1000 feet (300km) in size or bigger. i don't think we can see even half of them. space is big.

You seem to have extremely huge walking organs there in the US... at least here in good old Metricland 1000 ft aren't much more than 304,8 metres or 0,3km ;)
1 / 5 (1) Oct 22, 2013
You seem to have extremely huge walking organs there in the US

Yeah, and you know what they say about guys with big feet. (sorry, couldn't resist)

still don't buy the bullshit about there being so 'few' near earth asteroids 1km+ in size. let alone 1000 feet (300km) in size or bigger. i don't think we can see even half of them

This one is kinda different than the average NEO, with its four year orbit. We really only have a good chance to see them when they get close to us, and this one only does that once every four years. I'm 43 years old, so there have only been 10 chances to spot it since I was born. Detection systems only got good in the last 10 years or so, so that's actually more like 2 or 3 chances to spot it in my lifetime. I'd say spotting it on the 2nd or 3rd pass since we started looking isn't too bad. They don't know the orbit that well yet, but it may even have been on the opposite side of the sun from us on its last pass, so zero chance to spot it then.
1 / 5 (1) Oct 22, 2013
As for our estimate of the percentage of NEO's we've already found versus haven't found, it's probobly a really close estimate. We know with a good degree of certainty how sensitive our telescopes are, since we built the darn things. We also know quite a bit about asteroids in general, such as the typical surface albedo.

Here's the big dead giveaway though: When we first activated our current detection systems the discoveries started pouring in. We were detecting them at an incredible rate, like hundreds per day at first. We know that we detected sizes as small as just a few tens of meters, so our telescopes are working really well.

That rate of discovery has now slowed down to a mere trickle, but our telescopes are still working, so the only explanation is that we've spotted the majority of them.

The really scary part is that the majority of undiscovered Earth-crossers are now only the long period demons; the sterilizers with +100k year orbits

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