Only once every ten years does an asteroid of this size come so close. For space agencies, it’s an opportunity to learn how to “defend” our planet.
An asteroid large enough to destroy a city will pass between the orbits of Earth and the Moon on Saturday. According to the European Space Agency ESA, the celestial body will be only 168,000 km from our planet at its closest point.
It is rare for an asteroid between 40 and 90 meters in diameter to come close to Earth. According to the US space agency NASA, this happens about once every ten years.
The passage of the recently discovered object called 2023 DZ2 poses no danger, said Richard Moesel, a planetary defense specialist at the European Space Agency (ESA). “There is no chance that this asteroid will hit the Earth,” Moesel said. However, the asteroid’s close pass provides an “excellent opportunity to observe” and learn lessons to protect our planet from future impacts.
Moesel and his colleagues currently monitor more than 1,450 NEOs. Objects are added to the “risk list,” says Moissl, “as soon as there is the slightest possibility they could hit Earth in the next 100 years.” Constant monitoring allows planetary defenders like Moissl to fine-tune their measurements.
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