2023 DW: A Reminder of the Importance of Monitoring Near-Earth Objects
Asteroid 2023 DW is gaining attention from scientists as it has a very small chance of colliding with Earth in 2046. According to the European Space Agency, the asteroid has a 1 in 625 chance of hitting the Earth on February 14th, 2046. In order to prepare for potential impact, NASA launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft into the Dimorphos asteroid in September 2022. The mission was used to test a method of planetary defense against near-Earth objects (NEOs) and assess how much a spacecraft impact deflects an asteroid when it strikes.
2023 DW is currently rated as 1 on the Torino scale, which is used to categorize the risk of impact to Earth level. Astronomer Piero Sicoli believes the asteroid has about a 1 in 400 chance of actually having an impact. According to the ESA, the odds of the asteroid hitting the Earth are 1 in 607. While the chances are low and an asteroid this size wouldn’t cause a global catastrophe in any case, the risk hasn’t quite gone away after repeated monitoring.
In 2013, a meteor of similar size exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, creating a shockwave that damaged thousands of buildings and injured roughly 1,500 people. NASA has been actively studying asteroids and other space debris for many years and is now developing technologies that could potentially deflect or destroy asteroids if they pose a threat to Earth.
This asteroid's discovery serves to emphasize the necessity of ongoing initiatives to observe and research near-Earth objects. While it may sound like a heightened risk, the odds are still a “very small chance” of impact and the risk level is expected to decline as clearer observations of the asteroid become available.
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