Asteroid-exploring spacecraft passes over Earth
NASA’s Lucy spacecraft skimmed the Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday, passing a mere 220 miles above the surface. The spacecraft is on a 12-year quest to explore eight asteroids. (Oct. 18)
An asteroid estimated to be the size of a delivery truck is expected to fly by Earth on Thursday night. It’s one of the closest approaches recorded.
The asteroid, dubbed 2023 BU and about the size of a box truck, has no risk of hitting Earth, NASA said Wednesday. It’s expected to zip 2,200 miles above the southern tip of South America, approximately 10 times closer than some communication satellites.
Even if the asteroid did risk hitting Earth, it would “turn into a fireball and largely disintegrate harmlessly in the atmosphere, with some of the bigger debris potentially falling as small meteorites,” NASA said.
- The asteroid’s closest approach will be at 7:27 p.m. EST.
- It’s estimated to be between 11.5 feet and 28 feet across.
- It was discovered by amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov from an observatory in Crimea, NASA confirmed.
- Borisov previously discovered an interstellar comet in 2019.
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Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said NASA’s Scout impact hazard assessment system “quickly ruled out 2023 BU as an impactor, but despite the very few observations, it was nonetheless able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinarily close approach with Earth.”
“In fact, this is one of the closest approaches by a known near-Earth object ever recorded,” he said.