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Feb 09, 2016 11:26 AM EST

Near-Earth Asteroid Will Not Impact Earth, Could Come Close Enough to See

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The next asteroid to pass Earth by will be another close call, but like many before it, astronomers are giving it zero chance to impact the planet's surface.

According to Gizmodo, Asteroid 2013 TX68 could wind up passing Earth so closely it would be visible with a telescope. But there is an alternate scenario in which the asteroid ends up much farther away from Earth.

NASA's Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. is projecting 2013 TX68 to pass Earth as close as 11,000 miles, as far as nine million miles, or anywhere in between. The asteroid has actually already passed on by, CBS News reported.

2013 TX68 came within 1.3 million miles of Earth two years ago and is making its coming back around the sun en route to pass by again on March 5.

The CNEOS gave the upcoming flyby a zero-percent chance of impact, but did leave open the possibility for Sept. 2017, albeit at one-in-250-million odds. The same asteroid is projected to pass Earth twice more in the distant future with an even worse chance of impact.

"The possibilities of collision on any of the three future flyby dates are far too small to be of any real concern," Paul Chodas, manager of CNEOS, said in a press release. "I fully expect any future observations to reduce the probability even more.

"This asteroid's orbit is quite uncertain, and it will be hard to predict where to look for it.

"There is a chance that the asteroid will be picked up by our asteroid search telescopes when it safely flies past us next month, providing us with data to more precisely define its orbit around the sun."

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