Space rock with an average diameter of 49 metres is expected to have 10 approaches to Earth, the closest in February 2046.
NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office says it has been tracking a new asteroid dubbed 2023 DW that has “a very small chance” of affecting Earth on Valentine’s Day in 2046.
According to projections by the European Space Agency, the asteroid has a one in 625 chance of colliding with Earth, while NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Sentry system estimates a chance of one in 560.
The asteroid is the only object scientists are tracking that ranks on the Torino scale, a tool NASA uses to categorise potential Earth-impact events. However, the US space agency said chances are extremely slim that the space rock will hit the planet.
“Often when new objects are first discovered, it takes several weeks of data to reduce the uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits years into the future,” NASA tweeted. “Orbit analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and update predictions as more data comes in.”
We’ve been tracking a new asteroid named 2023 DW that has a very small chance of impacting Earth in 2046. Often when new objects are first discovered, it takes several weeks of data to reduce the uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits years into the future. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/SaLC0AUSdP
— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) March 7, 2023
First detected in February, the asteroid is estimated to have an average diameter of 49 metres (160 feet) or roughly the length of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
According to NASA, the asteroid is predicted to have 10 close approaches to Earth with the other nine occurring between 2047 and 2054.
In September 2022, NASA crashed its Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft, or DART, into an asteroid to see if it could prevent potentially devastating collisions with Earth. Later NASA confirmed the mission was a success.