Asteroid to make extremely close approach to Earth Thursday

Scientists say this will be one of the closest approaches ever recorded.

January 25, 2023, 7:36 PM

An asteroid the size of a box truck is slated to get very close to Earth this week, according to scientists.

But don't be alarmed, it isn't projected to make an impact and cause Armageddon, NASA said.

The asteroid, 2023 BU, will pass by the planet over the southern tip of South America around 7:27 p.m. ET Thursday and be 2,200 miles above the Earth's surface, NASA said. The asteroid will be well within the orbit of geosynchronous satellites, according to the agency.

PHOTO: This orbital diagram from CNEOS's close approach viewer shows 2023 BU's trajectory - in red - during its close approach to Earth on Jan. 26, 2023.
This orbital diagram from CNEOS's close approach viewer shows 2023 BU's trajectory - in red - during its close approach to Earth on Jan. 26, 2023. The asteroid will pass about 10 times closer to Earth than the orbit of geosynchronous satellites, shown in green line.
JPL-Caltech/NASA

Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who developed the agency's Scout impact hazard assessment system, said in a statement that even though this comet's approach is very close to the planet, Scout ruled out 2023 BU as one that would make an impact.

"In fact, this is one of the closest approaches by a known near-Earth object ever recorded," he said in a statement.

The asteroid was discovered four days ago by amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov, from his MARGO observatory in Nauchnyi, Crimea, NASA said. Other agencies and labs analyzed the data and made more observations to come up with the asteroid's path and description.

The object is estimated to be 11.5 to 28 feet across.

NASA noted that even if the asteroid did impact Earth it "would turn into a fireball and largely disintegrate harmlessly in the atmosphere, with some of the bigger debris potentially falling as small meteorites."

PHOTO: This view from NASA's Scout system shows the deflection of asteroid 2023 BU's trajectory - in red - caused by Earth's gravity.
This view from NASA's Scout system shows the deflection of asteroid 2023 BU's trajectory - in red - caused by Earth's gravity. The orbit of geosynchronous satellites is shown in green, and the orbit of the Moon is depicted by the gray oval.
JPL-Caltech/NASA

The agency did note that 2023 BU will come so close to the Earth that its path around the sun will be altered by the planet's gravity.

"After its encounter, the asteroid’s orbit will be more elongated, moving it out to about halfway between Earth’s and Mars’ orbits at its farthest point from the sun," NASA said in a statement.

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