Newly discovered asteroid the size of a swimming pool has a 1-in-600 chance of colliding with Earth, NASA says

Newly discovered asteroid the size of a swimming pool has a 1-in-600 chance of colliding with Earth, NASA says

A newly discovered asteroid could come close to Earth about 20 years from now, with a roughly 1 in 600 chance that the space rock will collide directly with our planet, officials from NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office said (opens at new tab).

While that’s a higher-than-average risk level for near-Earth asteroids, it’s still a “very small chance” of impact, NASA wrote — and that risk level is expected to drop as clearer observations of the asteroid become available.

First discovered on February 27, the asteroid, named 2023 DW, is estimated to be about 165 feet (50 meters) in diameter, or about the length of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The asteroid is expected to come very close to Earth on February 14, 2046; As of March 8, the European Space Agency’s Near-Earth Objects Coordination Center (opens in new tab) predicts a 1 in 625 chance of a direct impact, although these odds are recalculated daily.

We have tracked a new asteroid called 2023 DW that has a very small chance of hitting Earth in 2046. Often when new objects are first discovered, it takes several weeks of data to reduce uncertainties and predict adequately their orbits years into the future. (1/2) 7, 2023

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“Often when new objects are first discovered, several weeks of data are needed to reduce uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits years into the future,” NASA tweeted. “Orbit analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and update predictions as more data comes in.”

A direct hit from such a rock would not be as cataclysmic as the roughly 7.5-mile (12-kilometer) wide dinosaur-killing asteroid that slammed into Earth 66 million years ago. However, 2023 DW could still cause severe damage if it were to land near a large city or a heavily populated area. A meteor less than half the size of 2023 DW exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013, generating a shock wave that damaged thousands of buildings and injured approximately 1,500 people.

While an impact with 2023 DW is extremely unlikely, scientists are rapidly developing methods to protect Earth from potentially dangerous asteroids like this one. Last week, NASA scientists released four studies confirming that the agency’s Dual Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission had successfully altered the trajectory of a small asteroid after a spacecraft slammed head-on into it. Follow-up missions are currently in the works to further improve the effectiveness of this planetary defense technique.

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