New asteroid has ‘very small chance’ of hitting Earth in 2046

An asteroid discovered late last month has a “very small chance” of impacting Earth on Valentine’s Day in 2046, NASA said Tuesday as astronomers worked to collect more data.

2023 DW was first spotted in Chile at the end of February and – after about a week of observations – has a 1 in 560 chance of hitting Earth at 21:44 UTC on February 14, 2046, according to NASA.

“We have tracked a new asteroid named 2023 DW that has a very small chance of impacting Earth in 2046,” NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office said in a statement Tuesday.

“Often, when new objects are first discovered, it takes several weeks of data to reduce uncertainty and adequately predict their orbits years into the future,” the office said.

The asteroid is about 50 meters (164 feet) in diameter, more than double the size of the meteor that caused a blast over Russia in 2013, damaging homes and injuring close to 1,500 people.

The 2023 DW is currently at the top of the European Space Agency’s risk list with a 1 on the Turin scale – meaning there is no reason for public concern at this time. Additional observations could reposition the risk to zero.

“Orbital analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and update predictions as more data comes in,” NASA said.

In January, a newly discovered asteroid flew past Earth at an altitude of 3,600 kilometers (2,200 miles), making it one of the closest encounters ever recorded. And in February, a 1 meter long asteroid was detected just hours before it entered the atmosphere, lights up the sky in parts of France and Western Europe.

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