Asteroid: Is 2023 DW Really Threatening Earth?


Asteroid: Is 2023 DW Really Threatening Earth?

ASTEROID. An asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool could cross Earth's path in 2046. While the chances of a collision are minimal, 2023 DW is currently under close surveillance by NASA.

Discovered on February 26, 2023 by a Chilean telescope, 2023 DW is an asteroid that could collide with Earth on February 14, 2046. With a diameter of 50 meters, the object could cause significant damage if it hits the Earth or even a tsunami if it fell into the ocean. However, the probability that this event occurs is very low and the asteroid has a good chance of passing near our planet without touching it.

Since 2013 and the fall of the Chelyabinsk asteroid, observation and monitoring of celestial objects that pass close to Earth have been strengthened. In order to protect populations as much as possible from the dangers associated with this type of collision, NASA is currently developing a new kind of space telescope. Entirely dedicated to creating an inventory of asteroids likely to cross our orbit, the NEO Surveyor should be launched in 2026 for a mission of at least 5 years, reports SciencePost magazine.

Asteroid 2023 DW is moving at a speed of 24 kilometers per second at a distance of 19.4 million kilometers from our planet. If NASA has placed the object under security surveillance, the Planetary Defense Coordination Office which belongs to the American agency is reassuring. The latter estimates that the asteroid has only a one in 625 chance of hitting the Earth during its passage near our planet in February 2046, according to Franceinfo.

2023 DW should therefore indeed approach the Earth in 2046. However, it should pass more than 1.8 million kilometers above our heads, which is five times the Earth Moon distance. These estimates should be adjusted and clarified in the coming weeks.

If asteroid 2023 DW hit Earth on February 14, 2046, it is likely that the impact would occur in a corridor connecting Sri Lanka and the northeastern United States. The chances of the object encountering dry land are low since this area is mostly covered by oceans. The asteroid could then cause a tsunami causing damage to the coasts. If the object struck a populated area, the human risk would be substantial. Indeed, the shock could destroy a city the size of Lyon.

An asteroid is a celestial object orbiting around a star. It is made up of rocks and metals and is a true witness to the formation of the solar system. Indeed, the generally accepted theory is that asteroids are rocky fragments that would not have agglomerated to form planets.

In the solar system, these objects come from the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which contains hundreds of thousands of them. Scientists suspect that Jupiter prevented the formation of a planet in this area because of its gravitational force. The asteroids are thus embryos of this planet which never saw the light of day.

In the asteroid belt, these pieces of rock orbit the Sun. However, it happens that their trajectory is deviated by the force of gravity of a planet like Mars or Jupiter. They then find themselves leaving their initial orbit and can thus cross the orbit of the Earth: they are then called near-Earth cruisers.

The visibility of an asteroid depends on many parameters such as the distance that separates us from the object or its size and its position in relation to the Sun. Some relatively rare asteroids are visible to the naked eye as they pass close to our planet. For others, you will need a pair of astronomy binoculars or a telescope to enjoy the show.

For the curious, NASA has put a tool online that allows you to follow the trajectories of different celestial objects such as asteroids, but also comets. You will be able to stay on the lookout for these space visitors.