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Saturday, March 25, 2023

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Asteroid 2023 BU Passes Very Close To Earth

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A minibus-sized asteroid named 2023 BU passed over the southern tip of South America before 4:27 am Mauritius Time (MUT) and had the closest-ever approach to Earth of 3,600 km (2,200 miles). It is said that large-sized asteroids floating near Earth are yet to be detected.

An amateur astronomer, Gennadiy Borisov, operating from Nauchnyi in Crimea, detected the asteroid last weekend. Further analysis of 2023 BU led to determining its size and more importantly its orbit, which made astronomers confident that there is no risk of the asteroid landing on Earth.

At the US space agency NASA, scientists have stated that 2023 BU’s orbit has changed after passing over Earth because the gravitational pull of the planet set the asteroid’s path through space.

The time of the lowest altitude was estimated to be 4:27 am MUT on Friday.

Even if the asteroid would have struck the Earth, it would not have yielded much damage. The space rock, about 3.5. to 8.5m (11.5ft to 28ft), would have broken up in many pieces but produced a fireball.

The famous Chelyabinsk meteor, which entered the Earth’s atmosphere above southern Russia in 2013, sized about 20 m (66ft). It produced a shockwave that shattered the windows on the ground.

In a statement, NASA said, “Before encountering Earth, the asteroid’s orbit around the Sun was roughly circular, approximating Earth’s orbit, taking 359 days to complete its orbit about the Sun.”

It further explained, “After its encounter, the asteroid’s orbit will be more elongated, moving it out to about halfway between Earth’s and Mars’ orbits at its furthest point from the Sun. The asteroid will then complete one orbit every 425 days.”

Efforts are being made to detect larger asteroids that have the ability to cause damage if landed on the planet.

The possibility of Earth being hit by an asteroid

According to statistics, only 40% of the asteroids have been found and are considered to be a potential threat to our planet. Such space rocks, if they strike the Earth, are believed to cause city-level devastation.

“There are still asteroids that cross the Earth’s orbit waiting to be discovered”, Professor Don Pollacco from the University of Warwick, UK, told BBC News.

He continued, “2023 BU is a recently discovered object supposedly the size of a small bus which must have passed by the Earth thousands of times before. This time it passes by only 2,200 miles from the Earth – just 1% of the distance to the moon – a celestial near miss.”

“Depending on what 2023 BU is composed of it is unlikely to ever reach the Earth’s surface but instead burn up in the atmosphere as a brilliant fireball – brighter than a full moon.”

“However, there are likely many asteroids out there that remain undiscovered that could penetrate the atmosphere and hit the surface to cause significant damage – indeed many scientists think we could be due to such an event”, he added.

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