Concern Arises Over Asteroid that Could Collide with Earth; how Real Is the Danger?

NASA has warned about an asteroid that could collide with Earth in the coming decades, but how real is the danger of it happening?

Gabriela Castillo

NASA is monitoring an asteroid that could collide with Earth in the coming decades, but they have clarified that more data is needed to determine if the object will actually hit the Earth’s surface. So far, it’s just a possibility, but how likely is it to happen?

An Asteroid that could Approach Earth

Through its official Twitter account, NASA has said that it is monitoring an asteroid discovered on February 26th. The object known as 2023 DW has a rating of 1 on the Torino Scale, which is used to assess the impact hazard of near-Earth objects. Level 1 is unusual among asteroids, as the other 1,448 near-Earth objects on the risk list have a rating of 0 on the scale. This is why 2023 DW has garnered significant attention.

The object has an approximate size of 50 meters, the length of an Olympic swimming pool, although NASA said that “the uncertainty of the size could be large.” The US space agency also said that current calculations show that while there is a possibility of a collision in 2046, this is extremely unlikely. The European Space Agency, on the other hand, calculated that the asteroid has a probability of 1 in 607 of impacting the Earth on Valentine’s Day in 2046, so there is no need to be alarmed.

“Often when newly discovered objects are first found, several weeks of data are needed to pin down the uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits into the future,” NASA tweeted. “Orbit analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and update predictions as more data comes in.”

Potentially Dangerous Objects?

Information often arises about asteroids that come close to Earth and present the possibility of colliding with the planet. So far, none of these collisions have occurred, but objects continue to appear in telescopes that threaten to head directly toward us.

When an asteroid or other type of object is detected, the first action to take is to calculate its trajectory based on the knowledge we have about different types of orbits. Based on these calculations, it is determined whether an object is potentially dangerous for Earth or not, but it should be noted that these calculations are subject to change, as more than one day is needed to observe the behavior of the asteroid, and the possibility of collision often changes as time passes and we better understand the object.

Asteroid 1 - concern arises over asteroid that could collide with earth; how real is the danger?

In addition, it should be clarified that the term “potentially dangerous object” is used by NASA to designate objects that come closer than 19.5 lunar distances to us, which is equivalent to 7 million kilometers. Although they are given this title, it does not mean that they will collide with the planet, it simply means that agencies must keep an eye on them in case any of them change their trajectory, such as in the case of 2023 DW, which for now has one possibility among many of impacting the planet, but the information will be modified as its trajectory is better understood.

Story originally written in Spanish by Alejandra Martínez in Ecoosfera.