Asteroid makes one of the closest passes to Earth on record
A box truck-sized asteroid made one of the closest passes to planet Earth ever recorded.
The small near-Earth asteroid, called 2023 BU, skimmed over the southernmost tip of South America at 7:27 p.m. ET Thursday, about 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers) above Earth’s surface. This distance was well within the orbit of global satellites.
According to NASA, there was no risk of the asteroid hitting Earth.
If the space rock, estimated to be 11.5 to 28 feet (3.5 to 8.5 meters) wide, was heading for Earth, it would turned into a fireball as soon as it entered the atmosphere and disintegrated. The remaining debris would have fallen to the ground as small meteorites, according to the space agency.
Amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov spotted the asteroid Saturday from the MARGO Observatory in Nauchnyi, Crimea. Borisov had previously discovered the interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov in 2019.
The Minor Planet Center, which tracks the positions of minor planets, comets and space rocks, also received recent reports of sightings of the asteroid 2023 BU. Once enough sightings were recorded, the center announced the discovery of the asteroid. Under the auspices of the International Astronomical Union, the organization is responsible for the identification, designation and orbital data of such celestial bodies.
Observatories around the world made further observations after the announcement of the discovery on Sunday, allowing 2023 BU’s orbit to be fine-tuned.
The Scout impact assessment system from NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies analyzed the data from the Minor Planet Center and predicted that the asteroid would miss Earth.
The Center for Near Earth Object Studies, located at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, calculates the orbits of all known near-Earth asteroids to assess their potential impact on our planet.
“Scout quickly ruled out 2023 BU as an impactor, but despite the very few sightings, it was nevertheless able to predict that the asteroid would make an unusually close approach to Earth,” said Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at JPL who developed Scout. . in a statement. “In fact, this is one of the closest approaches to a known near-Earth object.”
Earth’s gravity changes the orbit of asteroids, but 2023 BU came so close to our planet that its orbit around the sun changed after the encounter.
Before Thursday’s close pass, the asteroid had a circular orbit that took about 359 days around the sun. Utilities, scientists estimate that the asteroid’s orbit is elongated, extending that single orbit of the sun to 425 days.
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