NASA scientists have been tracking a recently discovered asteroid named that has the potential to enter a collision course with planet Earth. The space agency’s orbit analysts continue to monitor the asteroid named 2023 DW as NASA works to provide updated predictions on where the space rock might be heading.
NASA’s Planetary Defence Coordination Office, which “detects, tracks, and characterizes Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) to enable mitigation of potential future NEO impacts,” have said there is a “very small chance of impacting Earth in 2046.”
In a Twitter post, Nasa Asteroid Watch said: “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.
“Orbit analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and update predictions as more data comes in.”
Similar in size to an Olympic swimming pool, the asteroid was first discovered on 28 February
2023 DW currently sits top of the European Space Agency’s “risk list”.
According to astronomer Piero Sicoli, who shared his calculations on Twitter, there is a 1 in 400 chance that this asteroid could hit Earth.
If it does, Sicoli’s estimates suggest that the potential impact zone would be somewhere between the Indian Ocean and the east coast of the United States.
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The red dots on the map he provided indicate the possible impact zone based on the current information available.
In total, the number of asteroids being monitored has increased to approximately 31,000, from around 9,500.
NASA has stepped up its asteroid tracking program since 2013 following the Chelyabinsk meteor that struck Russia and injured over 1,100 people.
The agency is currently developing the Near-Earth Object Surveyor, a space telescope worth £985m, set to launch in 2028, which will be specifically designed to identify asteroids and comets that pose a potential threat to Earth.
Additionally, NASA is working on the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft, which, during testing in 2022, was intentionally crashed into an asteroid, successfully modifying its orbit.
According to the Torino scale used to classify the risk of asteroids impacting the Earth, 2023 DW is the only asteroid on the list that has received a score of 1.
This rating implies that the likelihood of collision is “extremely unlikely with no cause for public attention or public concern,” as per the Center for Near Earth Object Studies.
On the other hand, all the other asteroids on the list have received a score of 0, indicating that there is no threat of collision.
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