June 25, 2024

An asteroid will pass “scraping” over South America this Thursday

2 min read
An asteroid will pass “scraping” over South America this Thursday

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

An asteroid will approach Earth very close on Thursday, dangerously close to our planet. But do not worry! NASA experts guarantee that the space rock will pass through the Earth without affecting the surface.

At its closest point, the rock outside Earth – called the near-Earth asteroid 2023 BU – will be just 3,500 kilometers from Earth’s surface. Experts have calculated that its closest approach will occur at 18:17 (21:17 UTC) this Thursday, when it will pass over South America.

To quantify how eerily close this is, about 25% of the distance between Earth and geostationary satellites (which is about 36,000km away) that we use for weather and storm imagery, and less than 3% of the average distance to the Moon.

Its impressive proximity makes it the fourth-closest object ever discovered. Gennadly Borisov discovered the asteroid last weekend, on January 21, just five days before it was close to its date with Earth.

Its estimated diameter of 2023 BU varies between 3.7 and 8.2 meters, which means it is as big as a bus and not catastrophically relative to celestial bodies. Experts calculated its orbit and insisted that there was no chance of the asteroid hitting Earth.

However, even if it did, it likely wouldn’t reach the surface. NASA says space rocks less than 25 meters in diameter are more likely to burn up if they enter Earth’s atmosphere, which means they do little damage to Earth.

While it won’t affect us, the asteroid will technically pass through our planet’s upper atmosphere. This region, known as the exosphere, extends between about 10,000 km and 200,000 km above Earth. However, most scientists don’t consider it a true part of Earth’s atmosphere, because the air is so thin.

However, asteroid 2023 BU will pass well within the orbit of the geostationary satellite over South America, but it is still far from the International Space Station, 400 km from Earth.

The space rock was discovered Saturday at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Nauchnyi, Crimea, by star astronomer Gennadiy Borisov — who also discovered the first comet ever seen to travel to the solar system from interstellar space.

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