NASA is tracking a new asteroid that has a small chance of hitting Earth in about 20 years on Valentine’s Day 2046.
NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office said the space agency has been tracking a new asteroid named 2023 DW that has a very small chance of impacting Earth on Feb. 14, 2046.
NASA Asteroid Watch on Twitter: “We’ve been tracking a new asteroid named 2023 DW that has a very small chance of impacting Earth in 2046. Often when new objects are first discovered, it takes several weeks of data to reduce the uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits years into the future. (1/2) https://t.co/SaLC0AUSdP” / Twitter
According to NASA, asteroid 2023 DW is roughly 162 feet wide (roughly as wide as an NFL football field) and will take 271 days to complete one solar orbit.
The object has a very small chance of striking Earth on Feb. 14, 2046, when it passes our planet at a distance of about 1.1 million miles.
Asteroids can be found mainly in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
There are almost 1.9 million asteroids that are 1,000 years or larger and millions of other space rocks in space.
Despite this massive number, asteroids rarely threaten Earth and even when they approach our globe for close approach, most of them burn up in the atmosphere itself without causing any harm to the planet.
However, this might change soon as NASA is tracking an asteroid which could likely impact Earth sometime in the future.
According to NASA, a recently discovered asteroid, named Asteroid 2023 DW, could collide with Earth just 23 years from now, with potential impact expected on February 14, 2046.
NASA has projected that Asteroid 2023 DW has a 1 in 600 chance of impacting Earth.
Although this probability is quite low, the asteroid still poses a threat and will pass Earth at a likely distance of approximately 1.8 million kilometers.
With its current trajectory, Asteroid 2023 DW takes about 271 days to orbit the Sun.sThe asteroid is not small either. NASA has estimated this oncoming asteroid to be nearly 165 feet wide, which is almost as big as an aircraft!
Will it impact?
Although the Asteroid 2023 DW has a 1-in-600 chance to impact Earth’s surface, this could change.
Upon the discovery of this asteroid, NASA Asteroid Watch page tweeted, “Often when new objects are first discovered, it takes several weeks of data to reduce the uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits years into the future. Orbit analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and update predictions as more data comes in.
Managed for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) accurately characterizes the orbits of all known near-Earth objects, predicts their close approaches with Earth, and makes comprehensive impact hazard assessments in support of the agency’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Near-Earth objects are asteroids and comets with orbits that bring them to within 120 million miles of the Sun, which means they can circulate through the Earth’s orbital neighborhood. Most near-Earth objects are asteroids that range in size from about 10 feet to nearly 25 miles across.
The orbit of each object is computed by finding the elliptical path through space that best fits all the available observations, which often span many orbits over many years or decades. As more observations are made, the accuracy of an object’s orbit improves dramatically, and it becomes possible to predict where an object will be years or even decades into the future – and whether it could come close to Earth.
The majority of near-Earth objects have orbits that don’t bring them very close to Earth, and therefore pose no risk of impact, but a small fraction of them – called potentially hazardous asteroids – require more attention. These objects are defined as asteroids that are more than about 460 feet (140 meters) in size with orbits that bring them as close as within 4.6 million miles (7.5 million kilometers) of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. CNEOS continuously monitors all known near-Earth objects to assess any impact risk they may pose.
The orbital positions of near-Earth objects come from the databases of the Minor Planet Center, the internationally recognized clearinghouse for small-body position measurements. This data is collected by observatories around the world, including significant contributions from amateur observers. The vast majority of asteroid-tracking data, however, is collected by large NASA-funded observatories (such as Pan-STARRS, the Catalina Sky Survey, NASA’s NEOWISE mission and, in the future, NEO Surveyor). Planetary radar projects (including JPL’s Goldstone Solar System Radar Group) are another key component of NASA’s NEO Observations Program.
The Center for Near-Earth Object Studies is home of the Sentry impact-monitoring system, which continuously performs long-term analyses of possible future orbits of hazardous asteroids. There is currently no known significant threat of impact for the next hundred years or more. The Center also maintains the Scout system that continually monitors brand-new potential near-Earth object detections, even before they have been confirmed as new discoveries, to see whether any of these generally very small asteroids might pose a threat of short-term (possibly imminent) impact.
CNEOS also supports NASA’s planetary defense efforts by leading hypothetical impact exercises to help educate national and international space and disaster response agencies on the issues they would face in an actual asteroid impact scenario. The exercises inform scientists and key decision-makers as to the warning systems and impact mitigation strategies that could be employed in the event a threatening object is identified.