An asteroid that is somewhat close to Earth will come very close to our planet on Thursday, January 26. At just 2,200 miles (3,600 kilometres) above the planet’s surface and well within the orbit of geosynchronous satellites, the asteroid, named 2023 BU, will go past the southern point of South America at around 4:27 p.m. PST (7:27 p.m. EST).
There is zero chance that the asteroid will hit Earth. But even if it did, the 11.5 to 28 foot (3.5 to 8.5 metre) wide small asteroid would become a fireball and generally disintegrate harmlessly in the atmosphere, with some of the larger material possibly falling as minor meteorites.
Gennadiy Borisov, an amateur astronomer, discovered this one just last weekend. He works out of Nauchnyi in Crimea, the peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Our understanding of 2023 BU’s size and, most importantly, its orbit has been improved by subsequent observations.
Because of this, even though it will pass within the arc filled by the world’s communication satellites, which are located 36,000 kilometres (22,000 miles) above us, the spacecraft will miss the planet.
The likelihood of hitting a satellite is quite slim. On Friday, 1.27 PM NZT has been calculated as the time of lowest altitude (00:27 GMT).
Even if 2023 BU were to collide directly with Earth, it would be difficult for it to cause any harm.
The boulder, which measures between 3.5 and 8.5 metres across, would probably break apart high in the stratosphere. But it would create a magnificent blaze.
In contrast, the well-known Chelyabinsk meteor, which entered the atmosphere above southern Russia in 2013, was a roughly 20-meter-wide item. It caused a shockwave that broke ground-level windows.
NASA researchers predict that 2023 BU’s collision with Earth will change its orbit around the Sun.
It will be pulled by the gravity of our planet, changing its course across space.
According to the agency, “Before encountering Earth, the asteroid’s orbit around the Sun was roughly circular, approximating Earth’s orbit, taking 359 days to complete its orbit about the Sun.”
“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. The asteroid will then complete one orbit every 425 days.”
The search for considerably larger asteroids that may seriously harm Earth in the event of a collision is already underway.
There is no need to be concerned because all of the real monsters out there, such as the 12 km broad boulder that took out the dinosaurs, have probably already been found. But when you shrink it down to, say, 150 metres wide, our inventory has holes.
According to statistics, only 40% of these asteroids have likely been observed and evaluated to identify the potential harm they pose.