It is a large pebble spotted for the first time at the end of February. This Saturday evening, the asteroid called 2023 DZ2 will pass between the Earth and the Moon, about 175,000 kilometers from our planet, at a speed of 28,000 km / hour. The event does not present any danger but it will serve as a planetary defense training exercise.
In January, asteroid 2023 BU approached 3,600 km from the surface of our planet, a distance less than that of many orbiting satellites.
The asteroid is estimated to be between 40 and 70 meters in diameter, large enough to wipe out a major city if it were to collide with Earth. It was detected on February 27 by an observatory in La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands.
Saturday at 7:49 p.m. GMT, it will pass “very close” to Earth, less than a third of the distance that separates us from the Moon. But there is no need to worry, Richard Moissl, head of the planetary defense office of the European Space Agency (ESA), told AFP.
Small asteroids pass over our heads every day, but the passage of such a large one so close to the Earth occurs only every ten years, according to Mr. Moissl. The International Asteroid Warning Network has therefore decided to take advantage of such a closeness, and 2023 DZ2 will be analyzed using a series of instruments such as spectrometers and radars.
The goal is to discover everything that can be learned about an asteroid in just one week, says the scientist. This will serve as a practice for how the network “will react to such a threat” in the future, he added.
According to astronomers’ calculations, the asteroid will pass Earth again in 2026, but at a greater distance and will not pose a risk of impact for at least the next 100 years.
Astronomers had detected an asteroid of similar size, 2023 DW, and assessed, at the beginning of March, at a one in 432 chance of a collision with Earth in 2046. But this probability has dropped, following more precise calculations and everything risk is now eliminated.
If such an object were ever to make its way towards us, Earth would not be defenseless. Last year, NASA’s DART spacecraft deliberately crashed into the asteroid Dimorphos, about 11 million kilometers from Earth, and managed to divert its course.
Source: Libération by www.liberation.fr.
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