An Asteroid Is About To Fly Closer To Earth Than Our Satellites

Not the asteroid mentioned in the story. Shutterstock/Asteroid

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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An asteroid roughly the size of a minibus is going to whiz past Earth on Thursday, coming closer than the orbit of our satellites, NASA Asteroid Watch reports.

The space rock, aptly named Asteroid 2023 BU, will come as close as 2,200 miles from the surface of our little planet, skimming over the southern tip of South America late Thursday evening, according to the BBC. It was only discovered over the previous weekend by Gennadiy Borisov, an amateur astronomer based in Crimea.

Observations and tracking suggest the asteroid’s orbit will fly past Earth and that is not on a direct collision course, the BBC reported. The asteroid could hit a satellite, but the odds of that happening are very slim. Even if it did hit Earth, its size suggests it wouldn’t do much damage, the outlet continued.

At an estimated size of 11.5 feet to 28 feet across, astronomers believe the rock will burn up in our atmosphere, potentially creating a huge, glowing fireball as it flies past us, according to the BBC. NASA Asteroid Watch shared a graphic of the asteroid’s trajectory on Twitter, showing its path (red line) in relation to our telecommunications satellites (green line).

“[NASA’s Scout impact hazard assessment system] quickly ruled out 2023 BU as an impactor, but despite the very few observations, it was nonetheless able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinarily close approach with Earth,” Jet Propulsion Laboratory navigation engineer Davide Farnocchia told NASA in a statement. “In fact, this is one of the closest approaches by a known near-Earth object ever recorded.” (RELATED: Dear Kay: I Watched ‘Ancient Apocalypse’ And Now I’m Scared We’re Going To Die Before 2025)

While there is no reason to panic at this time, the asteroid’s close course with Earth and late identification suggests there may be many other things lurking in our immediate place in space that we don’t yet have our eyes on. Statistics suggest roughly 40% of massive, dangerous asteroids have been identified and assessed for their threat level, the BBC reported.