Asteroid 2023 BU is about the size of a box truck and is expected to be one of the closest approaches to a near-Earth object ever recorded.
On Thursday, January 26, a small near-Earth asteroid will have a very close encounter with our planet. Named 2023 BU, the asteroid will zoom over the southern tip of South America at about 4:27 pm PST (7:27 pm EST) just 2,200 miles (3,600 kilometers) above the planet’s surface and well within the orbit of the satellites geosynchronous.
There is no danger of the asteroid hitting Earth. But even if it did, this small asteroid – estimated to be 11.5 to 28 feet (3.5 to 8.5 meters) across – would turn into a fireball and disintegrate mostly harmlessly in the atmosphere, and some could of the larger debris fall as small dragons.
The asteroid, discoverer of the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov, was discovered by amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov from his MARGO observatory in Nauchnyi, Crimea, on Saturday, January 21. Additional observations were reported to the Minor Planet Center (MPC)—the recognized international clearinghouse for position measurements of small celestial bodies—and the data was then automatically posted to the Near-Earth Object Confirmation Page. After collecting enough comments, the MPC announced the discovery. Within three days, dozens of observations had been made by dozens of observatories around the world, helping astronomers to better refine the orbit of 2023 BU.
NASA’s Scout impact hazard assessment system, maintained by the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, analyzed the data from the MPC confirmation page and quickly predicted the near miss. CNEOS calculates the orbits of all known near-Earth asteroids to provide assessments of potential impact hazards in support of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO).
“Scout quickly ruled out 2023 BU as an impactor, but despite the small number of observations, it was nevertheless able to predict that the asteroid would make an extremely close approach to Earth,” said Davide Farnocchia, a navigational engineer at JPL developed Scout. “In fact, this is one of the closest approaches to a known near-Earth object ever recorded.”
While any near-Earth asteroid will change its trajectory due to our planet’s gravity, 2023 BU will come so close that its path around the sun is expected to change significantly. Before it hit Earth, the asteroid’s orbit around the sun was roughly circular, making it close to Earth’s orbit, taking 359 days to complete its orbit around the sun. After contact, the asteroid’s orbit will be longer, moving out to about halfway between the orbits of Earth and Mars at its furthest point from the sun. Then the asteroid will complete one orbit every 425 days.
More information about CNEOS, asteroids, and near-Earth objects can be found at: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroid-watch
Quote: NASA system predicts a small asteroid will pass near Earth this week (2023, January 25) retrieved January 25, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-nasa-small-asteroid- earth-week.html
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