Ukrainian astronomers have discovered a large asteroid that could hit Earth in 2032, though the impact risk is minimal, according to current estimates.
The 410-meter-wide (1,350-foot) minor planet, which has been named 2013 TV135, was first discovered last weekend by the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in southern Ukraine, according to the International Astronomer Union’s Minor Planet Center.
As of Thursday, the discovery had been confirmed by five more astronomy groups, including in Italy, Spain, the UK and Russia’s Siberian republic of Buryatia, the center said on its website.
The asteroid has been classified as potentially hazardous, a formal tag given to celestial bodies whose orbits bring them closer than 7.5 million km from Earth’s orbit.
The minimal distance between the orbits of 2013 TV135 and Earth is currently put at 1.7 million km.
However, it also has a 1 in 63,000 chance of colliding with Earth on August 26, 2032, according to available estimates.
Astronomers will be able to better evaluate the impact risk of the asteroid – and even determine its possible impact site on Earth – in 2028, Timur Kryachko of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
“Here’s a super-task for our space industry,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who has lobbied for Russia to develop asteroid defense systems, said of the asteroid on Twitter on Thursday.
The 2013 TV135 has been given a 1 out of 10 rating on the Torino Scale, which estimates asteroid impact hazards. Only one other asteroid currently has the same rating, with collision risks for all others being “effectively zero,” according to NASA’s Near Earth Object Program.
The 2013 TV135 colliding with Earth would create an explosion estimated to be equivalent to 2,500 megatons of TNT – 50 times greater than the biggest nuclear bomb ever detonated.
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