The asteroid will get 10 times closer to Earth than communications satellites currently in orbit, but NASA insists there’s no chance of it hitting Earth.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A delivery truck-sized asteroid will whip past Earth Thursday night, in one of the closest such encounters on record.
NASA insists it will be a near miss without the asteroid being able to hit Earth.
NASA said Wednesday that this newly discovered asteroid will zoom 2,200 miles (3,600 kilometers) over the southern tip of South America. That’s ten times closer than the swarm of communications satellites orbiting overhead.
Closest approach is at 7:27 p.m. EST (9:27 p.m. local).
Even if the space rock got much closer, scientists said most of it would burn up in the atmosphere, with some of the larger pieces possibly falling as meteorites.
NASA’s impact hazard rating system, called Scout, quickly ruled out a strike, said its developer Davide Farnocchia, an engineer at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“But despite the very few observations, it was still able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinarily close approach to Earth,” Farnocchia said in a statement. “In fact, this is one of the closest objects ever recorded to a known near-Earth planet.”
The asteroid discovered on Saturday, named 2023 BU, is said to have a diameter of between 3.5 meters and 8.5 meters. It was first discovered by the same amateur astronomer in Crimea, Gennady Borisov, who discovered an interstellar comet in 2019. In a matter of days, dozens of observations were made by astronomers around the world, allowing them to refine the asteroid’s orbit.
The asteroid’s orbit is drastically altered by Earth’s gravity as it passes. Instead of orbiting the sun every 359 days, NASA says it will move on an oval orbit that lasts 425 days.
https://www.kvue.com/article/news/nation-world/asteroid-close-to-earth-near-miss/507-219d2b34-b0a7-42fa-a87a-1a5c00ab6479 NASA: Asteroid will approach but miss Earth on Thursday