An asteroid the size of a delivery truck will pass Earth in one of the closest encounters on record – coming within a tenth of the orbit distance of most communications satellites .
Nasa said the newly discovered asteroid will pass 2,200 miles (3,600 km) over the southern tip of South America at 7:27 p.m. Eastern US time on Thursday ( 00:27 GMT Friday).
NASA said it would be a near miss with no chance of hitting Earth. Even if it got much closer, scientists said most of it would burn up in the atmosphere, with larger pieces possibly falling as meteorites.
Nasa’s impact risk assessment system, called Scout, quickly ruled out a strike, said its developer, Davide Farnocchia, an engineer at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“But despite the few observations, he was still able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinarily close approach to Earth,” Farnocchia said. “In fact, this is one of the closest approaches to a known near-Earth object ever recorded.”
Discovered on Saturday, the asteroid known as 2023 BU is said to be between 11ft (3.5m) and 28ft (8.5m) in diameter.
It was first spotted by the same amateur astronomer in Crimea, Gennady Borisov, who discovered an interstellar comet in 2019. Within days, dozens of observations were made by astronomers around the world, allowing them to refine the trajectory of the asteroid.
This path will be significantly altered by Earth’s gravity as it passes. Instead of circling the sun every 359 days, it will move in an oval orbit lasting 425 days, according to NASA.
With Associated Press