NASA might have to take out asteroid that could collide with Earth sooner than it realized
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Featured Image Credit: PA/Pixabay/ Nasa
NASA might actually have to take out an asteroid that has the possibility of colliding with Earth sooner than it thought.
The asteroid, which is the size of an Olympic swimming pool, has a chance of colliding with Earth in 23 years' time.
The 2023 DW, as it is known, has a 50-meter (165-foot diameter) and has been ranked as number one on the European Space Agency's risk list.
It was first detected on 26 February by the agency, and its ranking means it has the potential to collide with Earth.
Scientists have estimated that the asteroid could hit Earth on 14 February 2046, but there is literally no reason for any of us to fear.
While there is a chance that the asteroid will hit Earth, it remains a very unlikely scenario.
Currently, the ESA predicts that the asteroid has a 1 in 607 chance of impacting Earth, while NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office says that it has been tracking the asteroid and that the risk of it hitting Earth in 2046 remains 'very small'.
"Often when new objects are first discovered, it takes several weeks of data to reduce the uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits years into the future," the office tweeted.
"Orbit analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and update predictions as more data comes in."
Meanwhile, astronomer Piero Sicoli said that he believes there is about a '1 in 400' change the asteroid will hit on 14 February 2046.
On Twitter, he added: "Surely this possibility will soon be ruled out. However, as an exercise, I calculated where the asteroid might fall if this possibility occurred."
Based on current calculations - which will likely change over time - if the asteroid was to hit Earth, it could fall anywhere between the Indian Ocean to the US East Coast.
But even if this asteroid was heading for Earth, NASA could deploy its DART test, which is a defense against asteroids that have the potential to hit Earth.
The program was launched in 2022, which ended up hitting the Dimorphos asteroid.
And the findings from this test were very successful, with evidence published in Nature showing it was very effective in diverting the asteroids route.
Tom Statler, a DART program scientist at NASA, said that there was no hope of diverting an asteroid 30 years ago. But thanks to the DART, there is certainly a lot of optimism.
"We will know what to do about it when something new is found," the scientist said.