Newly discovered asteroid has reduced odds of striking Earth
The European Space Agency said Tuesday that the chances a newly-discovered asteroid will hit Earth in 2046 have dipped.
This comes after NASA revealed the asteroid, called 2023 DW, could hit Earth on Valentine’s Day in 2046, although the odds were already slim. The asteroid is estimated to be about the size of a 50-meter Olympic swimming pool.
Last week, NASA’s risk scale ranked the odds of the asteroid hitting Earth as “extremely unlikely” and said there was “no cause for public concern.”
The likelihood that the asteroid hits Earth is even less than the one in 847 previously believed, according to ESA’s planetary defense office head Richard Moissl. He told Agence France-Presse, a news outlet in France, that the probability has dropped to one in 1,584.
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“It will go down now with every observation until it reaches zero in a couple of days at the latest,” Moissl said on Tuesday. “No one needs to be worried about this guy.”
NASA also lowered its odds, reducing the likelihood to one in 770 on Tuesday. This gives the asteroid a 99.87% chance of missing Earth.
“We tend to be a little more conservative, but it definitely appears to now have a downward trend in probability,” NASA’s planetary defense officer Lindley Johnson told the news outlet.
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Johnson added that new observations often drop the “uncertainty region” where the asteroid will reach its closest point to Earth.
Earth is still inside the uncertainty region, but the probability will temporarily rise until additional observations no longer include Earth and the odds are cut to zero.
In the event that the asteroid does strike Earth in 2046, there would be about a 70% chance it landed in the Pacific Ocean, but it could also hit the U.S., Australia or South-East Asia, Moissl said.
However, some experts say Earth could defend itself if an asteroid does come charging toward the planet. NASA’s Dart spacecraft deliberately struck the pyramid-sized asteroid Dimorphos last year, forcing it off course.
NASA’s Davide Farnocchia said the Dart mission “gives us confidence that such a mission would be successful” against 2023 DW.