- Written by Brandon Drinon
- BBC News, Washington
NASA said on Twitter on Tuesday that the newly discovered asteroid has a very small chance of impacting Earth in 2046.
If it collides, the asteroid, which is about the size of an Olympic swimming pool, could hit it Valentine’s Day 2046 According to NASA calculations.
NASA says the closest asteroid is expected to come to Earth is about 1.1 million miles (1.8 miles) away.
But researchers are still collecting data that they say may change expectations.
According to NASA, the asteroid, dubbed 2023 DW, has a 1 in 560 chance of hitting Earth. It is the only space rock on NASA’s hazard list that ranks first on the Turin Scale of Hazards.
The scale, which ranges from 0 to 10, measures the risk of a space object colliding with Earth. All other objects on the scale rank at 0, indicating no risk of being affected.
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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) says a rating of 1 means an actual collision is extremely unlikely and there is no cause for public concern.
“This thing is not particularly worrisome,” said JPL navigation engineer David Farnocchia he told CNN.
If it hits us, 2023 DW won’t have the same doomsday impact as the asteroid that wiped out Earth’s dinosaurs 66 million years ago. That asteroid was much larger, about 7.5 miles (12 km) across. Scientific American He says.
But an impact from 2023 DW can cause significant damage if it lands over a major city or densely populated area. A meteor less than half the size of 2023 DW exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, 10 years ago, sending a shock wave that destroyed windows over 200 square miles and injured nearly 1,500 people.
While contact with an asteroid seems unlikely, scientists have been preparing for such an encounter for years. Last October, NASA confirmed that the agency’s dual Asteroid Redirection Test (Dart) mission had successfully altered the travel path of a small asteroid by slamming a spacecraft into it.
“That’s the real reason we did this mission,” said Mr. Farnocchia, “and that mission was a resounding success.”
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