An asteroid the size of a delivery truck will pass Earth on Thursday night, one of the closest encounters ever recorded.
NASA insists it was a near miss with no chance of the asteroid hitting 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 10 times closer than the group of communications satellites orbiting above.
Closest approach will occur at 7:27 pm EST (9:27 pm local.)
Even as the space rock approaches, scientists say most of it will burn up in the atmosphere, with some of the larger pieces likely falling as meteorites.
NASA’s impact hazard assessment 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 very few observations, it was nevertheless possible to predict that the asteroid will make a very close approach to Earth,” Farnocchia said in a statement. “In fact, this is one of the closest approaches to a known near-Earth object ever recorded.”
Discovered on Saturday, the asteroid known as 2023 BU is believed to be between 11 feet (3.5 meters) and 28 feet (8.5 meters) across. It was first spotted by the same amateur astronomer in Crimea, Gennady Borisov, who discovered the interstellar comet in 2019. Within a few days, dozens of observations were made by astronomers around the world, which allowed them to refine the asteroid orbit.
The asteroid’s path will be drastically altered by Earth’s gravity once it passes by. Instead of circling the sun every 359 days, it moves into an oval orbit that lasts 425 days, according to NASA.
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