Truck-sized asteroid to make "extraordinarily close approach with Earth" today
Asteroid 2023 BU, the size of a box truck, is estimated to make one of the closest approaches to our home planet, coming well within the orbit of geosynchronous satellites. The asteroid will zip past the southern tip of South America at 7:27 pm EST today at a distance of approximately 3,600 kilometers above Earth's surface, according to NASA.
Why does this story matter?
- Whizzing asteroids are frequently being reported but Asteroid 2023 BU is unlike any of them. This space rock will make one of the closest approaches that have ever been recorded by a near-Earth object.
- How close? Well, closer than some of our communication satellites in space.
- As per NASA, there is no risk of the asteroid impacting Earth.
It would have disintegrated into small meteorites upon entry
NASA confirms that it would be a near miss and there is no risk of Asteroid 2023 BU impacting Earth. Even if the space rock edges closer than expected, it would turn into a fireball and eventually disintegrate in the atmosphere, posing no harm at all. Larger chunks of debris would possibly fall as small meteorites.
How big is the asteroid?
Asteroid 2023 BU is estimated to measure 11.5 to 28 feet in width. It was discovered just recently on January 21 by Gennady Borisov, an amateur astronomer based in Crimea. Borisov also discovered an interstellar comet—believed to have originated outside the solar system—in 2019. Within a few days, several observations were made by astronomers around the world, allowing them to refine the asteroid's path.
The asteroid will make "an extraordinarily close approach with Earth"
NASA's impact hazard assessment system, called Scout, "quickly ruled out 2023 BU as an impactor," said Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer who developed Scout. "But despite the very few observations, it was nonetheless able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinarily close approach with Earth." "In fact, this is one of the closest approaches by a known near-Earth object ever recorded."
The asteroid's path around the Sun will be altered significantly
Any asteroid in Earth's proximity will experience a change in trajectory because of our planet's gravity, according to NASA, and so will 2023 BU. Before heading toward Earth, the asteroid's orbit around the Sun was roughly circular, and one orbit lasted 359 days. Now, after the asteroid makes its encounter, its path will become more elongated and will complete an orbit every 425 days.