On Thursday, October 12, at 7:42 am, a small asteroid came close to Earth. One would have thought that the information would have been more widely publicized and shared, but it must be believed that there was really nothing to worry about. But beyond the phenomenon, as impressive as it was, it was above all an opportunity for astronomers to follow the potentially dangerous heavenly object and to practice as if it were the case.
Smaller than expected
“I consider the exercise to be a great success,” said Detlef Koschny, co-director of the European Space Agency Near-Earth Objects (ESA) segment. “We acted as if it were a critical object (which was not the case) and we trained in the exchange of information, using telescopes and radar systems. We were well prepared and most of the observations and communications worked as expected. “He explains.
This asteroid, named 2012 TC4, has grown to just under 44,000 kilometers of our blue planet. It was rather small, more than expected even, and measured between 10 and 12 meters (whereas the astronomers estimated it at 20 or 30 meters). If it did not risk touching the Earth, NASA and ESA had also asserted, a few days before its passage, that it presented no danger for the satellites.
It did not cause any material or human damage, unlike the meteor that had disintegrated over the city of Chelyabinsk in central Russia in February 2013. The first images broadcast on YouTube came from an American radar used for the occasion.