An asteroid the size of a delivery truck will pass Earth in one of the closest encounters ever recorded – within a tenth of the orbit distance of most communication satellites.
Nasa said the newly discovered asteroid will pass 2,200 miles (3,600km) above the tip of South America at 7.27pm US Eastern on Thursday (12.27am GMT on Friday).
Nasa said it would send it close with no chance of hitting Earth. Even though it came much closer, most scientists said it would burn up in the atmosphere, with larger pieces possibly falling from meteorites.
NASA’s impact hazard assessment system, called Scout, quickly ordered the strike, said its developer, Davide Farnocchia, an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“However, despite the few observations, he was nevertheless able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinary approach with Earth,” Farnocchia said. “In fact, this is one of the closest known near-Earth objects recorded.
Discovered on Saturday, the asteroid known as 2023 BU is believed to be between 11ft (3.5m) and 28ft (8.5m) across.
First by the same amateur astronomer of Crimea, Gennady Borisov, who discovered an interstellar comet in 2019. In a few days, dozens of observations were made around the world by astronomers, allowing them to study the path of asteroids.
That path will be altered by the gravity of the passing Earth. Instead of revolving around the sun every 350 days, it will spend thirty-two days in an oval orbit, according to Nasa.
With the Associated Press
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