The newly discovered asteroid 2023 DW could collide with Earth in February 2046, although the chances of an impact are low
When you buy a lottery ticket, you know you have a one in 100,000 chance of winning, but we think we’re going to make it. If you drive, there’s a one in 100 chance you’ll have an accident, but we don’t think that will ever happen to us. It allows us to put this NASA news in perspective.
A newly discovered asteroid could come dangerously close to Earth in about 20 years, with about a 1 in 600 chance of this space rock directly colliding with our planet, according to a tweet from NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
We have been tracking a new asteroid called 2023 DW that has a very slim chance of impacting Earth in 2046. Often, when new objects are discovered for the first time, it takes several weeks of data to reduce uncertainties and properly predict their orbits years into the future. future. . (1/2) pic.twitter.com/SaLC0AUSdP
— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) March 7, 2023
While this is an above-average risk level for near-Earth asteroids, it remains a “very small chance” of impact, according to NASA’s statement, and this risk level is expected to decrease until clearer observations are made. of the asteroid become available.
First detected on February 27, asteroid 2023 DW is estimated to be about 50 meters in diameter, or about the length of an Olympic swimming pool. The asteroid is expected to come very close to Earth on February 14, 2046. At this time, the Near Earth Object Coordination Center The European Space Agency predicts a direct hit probability of 1 in 625, although these odds are recalculated daily.
“Often, when new objects are discovered, several weeks of data are needed to reduce uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits years into the future,” NASA tweeted. “Orbit analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and will update predictions as more data arrives.”
A direct impact from such a rock would not be as cataclysmic as the one from the dinosaur-killing asteroid that slammed into Earth 66 million years ago, approximately 12 kilometers in diameter. However, the 2023 DW can cause serious damage if it lands near a large city or densely populated area. A meteorite less than half the size of 2023 DW exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013, generating a shock wave that damaged thousands of buildings and injured around 1,500 people.
While a 2023 DW impact is extremely unlikely, scientists are rapidly developing methods to protect Earth from potentially dangerous asteroids like this one. Last week, NASA scientists published four studies confirming that the agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission managed to alter the trajectory of a small asteroid after a spacecraft directly collided with it. Follow-up missions are being prepared to refine the effectiveness of this planetary defense technique.