The NASA system expects a small asteroid to pass near Earth this week

The NASA system expects a small asteroid to pass near Earth this week

This orbital chart from Opponent approaching CNEOS Shows the trajectory of 2023 BU – in red – as it approached Earth on January 26, 2023. The asteroid will pass about 10 times closer to Earth than the orbit of a geosynchronous satellite, shown by the green line. Credit: NASA

Asteroid 2023 BU is about the size of a box truck and is expected to be one of the closest approaches by an NEO ever recorded.

On Thursday, January 26, a small asteroid close to Earth will have a very close encounter with our planet. The asteroid, designated 2023 BU, will zoom over the southern tip of South America at about 4:27 p.m. PST (7:27 p.m. EST) just 2,200 miles (3,600 kilometers) above the planet’s surface and in orbit geosynchronous satellites.

There is no danger of an 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) wide — would turn into a fireball and largely disintegrate in the atmosphere, with some larger debris possibly falling as small meteorites.

The asteroid was discovered by amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov, discoverer of interstellar comet 2I/Borisov, from his Margo observatory in Naushny, Crimea, on Saturday, January 21. The clearinghouse recognized location measurements for small celestial bodies – the data was then automatically sent to the NEO confirmation page. After gathering enough notes, the MPC announced the discovery. In the course of three days, a number of observatories around the world made dozens of observations, helping astronomers refine 2023 BU’s orbit.

The NASA system expects a small asteroid to pass near Earth this week

This view from NASA’s Scout system shows the deflection of asteroid 2023 BU – in red – caused by Earth’s gravity. The geosynchronous satellite’s orbit is shown in green, and the moon’s orbit is shown as the gray ellipse. Credit: NASA

NASA’s Scout Impact Risk Assessment System, maintained by the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, analyzed data from the MPC’s confirmation page and quickly predicted the impending miss. CNEOS calculates the orbit of every known near-Earth asteroid to provide assessments of potential collision risks in support of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO).

“Scout quickly ruled out BU 2023 as a collider, but despite very few observations, it was able to predict that the asteroid would come unusually close to Earth,” said David Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who developed Scout. “In fact, this is one of the closest approaches ever recorded by a NEO known.”

While any asteroid close to Earth will experience a change in course due to our planet’s gravity, 2023 BU will come so close that its path around the sun is expected to change dramatically. Before encountering the Earth, the asteroid’s orbit around the Sun was nearly circular, approaching the Earth’s orbit, and it took 359 days to complete its orbit around the Sun. After encountering it, the asteroid’s orbit will be more elongated, causing it to move about halfway between the orbits of Earth and Mars at its farthest point from the sun. the asteroid It will then complete one orbit every 425 days.

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More information about CNEOS, asteroids and NEOs can be found at:

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