Monitoring Asteroid 2023 DW: A Risk of 1 on a 0-10 Scale
A recently discovered asteroid, 2023 DW, is estimated to be around 160 feet in diameter and has a very small chance of impacting Earth in 2046. According to NASA estimates, the probability of impact is about 1 in 625. The European Space Agency’s Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre has given it a 1 on a 0-10 scale, meaning that it is the only object on their risk list that ranks above 0.
In September 2022, NASA launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft, and successfully altered its orbit. The craft's target was a moonlet called Dimorphos circling its parent asteroid, Didymos and the mission was a success.
Asteroid 2023 DW will make its closest approach to Earth on February 14, 2046, and nine others between 2047 and 2054, with the closest the asteroid is expected to travel to Earth being about 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers).
Though the 2023 DW tops the list, its ranking of 1 means only that “the chance of collision is extremely unlikely with no cause for public attention or public concern,” according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, while a 0 ranking means the “likelihood of a collision is zero, or is so low as to be effectively zero.” “This object is not particularly concerning,” said Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
An asteroid measuring fifty meters in width entering Earth's atmosphere could cause an airburst with the same force as a nuclear bomb. In 1908, a massive explosion, referred to as the Tunguska event, occurred in Siberia, devastating hundreds of thousands of acres of remote forest land. A collision of similar magnitude in the wrong location could devastate a city. Though not as catastrophic as the asteroid-triggered extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, an asteroid between 6 to 10 miles wide could potentially create a worldwide emergency.
Though an impact from the asteroid is unlikely, it is important to continue to monitor it and update predictions as more data comes in. Scientists will continue to keep a close eye on the asteroid and assess the risk, though it is not likely to cause a global catastrophe.
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