There’s no reason to panic – an asteroid will pass harmlessly over our planet on Thursday evening, according to NASA. Nonetheless, the space agency says the object – the size of a large moving truck – will make one of the closest approaches to Earth ever when it flies over the Southern Hemisphere.
NASA describes it as “a very close encounter with our planet”.
The asteroid, dubbed 2023 BU, will be just 2,200 miles above Earth’s surface when it passes over the southern edge of South America at 7:27 p.m. ET, according to the Nasa.
For comparison, that’s a bit shorter than a straight line from New York to Las Vegas, or about 2,230 miles in the air.
“In fact, this is one of the closest approaches to a known near-Earth object ever recorded,” said Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, as the agency announced the close passage.
Even if it hit our planet – which it won’t, the scientists repeat – the main effect of the small asteroid would be visual, as it would become a ball of fire in our atmosphere, with some debris likely falling as small meteorites. .
The asteroid is coming on short notice: 2023 BU was just discovered on Saturday by Crimean amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov, who has already been credited with discovering a number of comets and asteroids, including the first interstellar comet confirmed.
NASA’s Scout system, which assesses potential hazards, quickly determined that 2023 BU would not hit Earth but would “make an extraordinarily close approach,” said Farnocchia, who developed the system.
News of the impending visit comes at a time when NASA has placed a new emphasis on planetary defense, detecting and analyzing objects that could pose a risk of impact. Last year, he even tested a just-in-case plan to crash into an asteroid, should it ever become necessary to redirect an object away from Earth.
2023 BU is much smaller than many other close-by asteroids that have made headlines in recent years, one of which was “the size of two Rose Bowl stadiums”. But this asteroid is also getting much closer to our planet: some of these other objects have remained tens or hundreds of thousands of kilometers away.
The asteroid’s visit will bring it well into the cloud of geosynchronous satellites around Earth, coming about 10 times closer to the planet’s surface than those objects, which maintain a high orbit.
#Earth #close #encounter #asteroid #tonight #NASA