Asteroid 2023 BU is about the size of a truck and is predicted to make 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. Designated BU 2023, the asteroid will pass over the southern tip of South America at around 4:27 p.m.
There is no risk 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 largely harmlessly in the atmosphere. , and some of the larger debris could fall as small meteors.
The asteroid was discovered by amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov, discoverer of the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov, from his MARGO observatory in Nauchnyi, Crimea, on Saturday, January 21. Additional observations were reported to the Minor Planet Center (MPC), the internationally recognized clearinghouse for position measurements of small celestial bodies, and the data was automatically published on the Near-Earth Object Confirmation page. After collecting enough observations, the MPC announced the discovery. Within three days, dozens of observations had been made by various observatories around the world, helping astronomers to better refine 2023 BU’s orbit.
NASA’s Scout impact risk assessment system, which is 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 all known near-Earth asteroid orbits to provide assessments of potential impact risks in support of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO).
“Scout quickly ruled out 2023 BU as an impactor, but despite the very few observations, it was able to predict that the asteroid would come extraordinarily close to Earth,” said Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at JPL who developed Scout. “In fact, this is one of the closest approaches of a known near-Earth object ever recorded.”
While any asteroid in the vicinity of Earth will experience a change in trajectory due to our planet’s gravity, 2023 BU will come so close that its path around the sun is expected to be significantly altered. Before meeting Earth, the asteroid’s orbit around the sun was roughly circular, approaching Earth’s orbit, and it took 359 days to complete its orbit around the sun. After their encounter, the asteroid’s orbit will be more elongated, moving roughly halfway between the orbits of Earth and Mars at its furthest from the sun. The asteroid will then 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
Citation: NASA system predicts small asteroid to pass near Earth this week (Jan 25, 2023) Retrieved Jan 25, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-nasa-small -asteroid-earth-week.html
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