NASA says asteroid feared to hit Earth in 2046 will almost certainly miss

After briefly flirting with doom, a newly discovered asteroid that was given a 1 in 600 chance of crashing into Earth on Valentine’s Day 2046 is now unlikely to hit our planet, NASA has announced.

An asteroid that was first discovered on February 25th. 27 and named “2023 DW”, is about 165 feet (50 meters) in diameter, or roughly the length of an Olympic pool.

Initially, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office gave a small but possible chance of a direct strike. (will open in a new tab), the threat posed by the asteroid sparked a flurry of news reports asking readers to reconsider any romantic plans made for 2046. Now NASA has revised that estimate, putting the chances of an asteroid hitting Earth at about 1 in 770, meaning it has a 99.87% chance of missing us. European Space Agency (ESA) Coordination Center for Near-Earth Objects (will open in a new tab) also lowered the risk score, reducing the likelihood of exposure from 1 in 625 to about 1 in 1584.

Related: What are asteroids?

“Now it will decrease with each observation until it reaches zero in a couple of days at the latest.” – Richard Moissle (will open in a new tab)Agence France-Presse was told this by the head of the ESA planetary protection office. (will open in a new tab) Tuesday (March 14). “No one needs to worry about this guy.”

NASA tracks the positions and orbits of approximately 28,000 asteroids by following them with the Last Asteroid Impact Alert System (ATLAS), which consists of four telescopes that can scan the entire night sky every 24 hours. The space agency labels any space object approaching Earth within 120 million miles (193 million kilometers) as a “near-Earth object” and classifies any large object within 4.65 million miles (7.5 million kilometers) of our planet as ” potentially dangerous.” “

NASA has estimated the trajectories of all these near-Earth objects beyond the end of the century. According to the agency, the Earth will not face any known danger from an apocalyptic asteroid impact for at least the next 100 years.

If the DW of 2023 does crash into the Earth, it will not be a catastrophic event like the dinosaur-killing 7.5-mile (12 km) asteroid that hit the Earth 66 million years ago. But that doesn’t mean smaller asteroids of this size aren’t dangerous. For example, in March 2021, a bowling-ball-sized meteor with a force of 440 pounds (200 kg) of TNT exploded over Vermont.

Even more dramatically, in 2013, a 59-foot-wide (18 m) meteorite explosion over Chelyabinsk, Russia, caused an explosion roughly equal to 400 to 500 kilotons of TNT, or 26 to 33 times the energy released by the Hiroshima explosion. . (will open in a new tab)and about 1,500 people were injured.

Space agencies around the world are already working on possible ways to deflect a dangerous asteroid if it ever heads our way. On September 26, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft redirected the non-hazardous asteroid Dimorphos, knocking it off course, changing the asteroid’s orbit by 32 minutes in the first test of the Earth’s planetary defense system. Since then, NASA has hailed the mission as a success beyond all expectations.

China has also suggested that it is in the early stages of planning an asteroid redirect mission. By firing 23 Long March 5 rockets at the asteroid Bennu, which will be within 4.6 million miles (7.4 million km) of Earth’s orbit between 2175 and 2199, the country hopes to steer a space rock away from a potentially catastrophic collision with our planet. . .

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