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Close call: Passing asteroid to test Earth warning systems...


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A house-sized asteroid grazed past Earth Thursday, passing harmlessly inside the Moon's orbit, as predicted, to give experts a rare opportunity to rehearse for a real strike threat in future. Dubbed 2012 TC4, the object's passing allowed scientists to practice spotting incoming objects, predicting their size and trajectory, and tracking their passage with a global network of telescopes and radars. "We pretended that this was a critical object and exercised our communication," said Detlef Koschny of the European Space Agency's Near-Earth Object programme.


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