The risk of an asteroid hitting Earth in 2046 has diminished
Thursday – 24 Shaaban 1444 AH – March 16, 2023 AD Issue number [
The small moon asteroid as seen by the spacecraft (Reuters)
Paris – London: «Asharq Al-Awsat»
The chances of an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool colliding with Earth in 2046 on Valentine’s Day have diminished, according to Agence France-Presse.
This orb, dubbed 2023 DW, was spotted with a diameter of 50 meters for the first time on February 26 by a small observatory in Chile.
And soon the US space agencies (NASA) and the European (ESA) classified it at the top of the list of potentially dangerous objects, as its theoretical path passes near Earth at a distance close enough to pose a danger.
If this happens, the calculations predict the likely date of the collision on February 14, 2046. Valentine’s Day. This news topped the headlines of some newspapers, which advised the lovers to cancel their plans on this date.
At the end of February, the probability of an asteroid hitting Earth was one in 847…but the probability has increased to one in 432, according to the risk list, compiled by the European Space Agency. NASA estimates also poured in the same direction.
But the head of the European Space Agency’s Planetary Defense Office, Richard Moisel, said the probability dropped overnight to one in 1,584. He added that the probability would drop “with each observation until it reaches zero in a few days at the latest”.
His counterpart at NASA, Lindley Johnson, agreed, saying, “At this point, no one should worry.” According to him, it is common for collision expectations to increase for a short period in the days following the discovery of a new asteroid, before declining later.
And the Earth is initially located in a “zone of uncertainty” about the asteroid’s path, which justifies the temporary increase in risks, before new observations are recorded that lead to the exclusion of the existence of Earth on this prospective path.
But what if the asteroid “DW 2023” collided with us, after all? Experts point out that the extent of the damage will depend on the composition of this orb.
If it was a pile of debris, the scenario might resemble the “Tunguska event” in Siberia in 1908, a large explosion attributed to the fall of an asteroid, said David Farnocchia, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.