The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Near-Earth Object Coordination Center (NEOCC) has announced that a new asteroid has been discovered with a small chance of colliding with Earth in a few years.
The NEOCC is one of ESA’s main planetary defense offices and maintains a portal where they publish the number of asteroids and comets discovered, along with their respective collision probabilities with Earth.
According to their list of risks, asteroid 2023DW has an estimated 1 in 625 chance of colliding with our planet on Valentine’s Day in 2046. While this is a low probability, some astronomers consider this asteroid to pose a high risk as we still have limited information about it.
Based on the information available, this asteroid is approximately the size of an Olympic swimming pool, about 50 meters long. While it is not one of the largest asteroids, if it were to collide with Earth, it could cause some damage.
The NASA has reported that it is already tracking the asteroid on its Twitter profile, but since it was recently discovered, there are uncertainties about details and trajectory. However, most of these uncertainties will be resolved with the production of more data about the object.
Possible Impact is Still Speculation
It is important to remember that the estimation of a possible impact with Earth is speculative since it is a newly discovered asteroid. When a new object is discovered, scientists conduct initial analyses and calculations to restrict the information about it. At this point, they are seeking more precise information about its size and whether its orbit could cause a collision with Earth.
This is a process that can take several weeks to complete. Based on the initial data discovered about the asteroid, it is not large enough to cause catastrophic damage in the event of a collision.
But if the 2023DW poses any risk to the planet, NASA or other space agencies have some systems to alter the orbit of the object, thus preventing a collision with Earth. The DART spacecraft is an example of a vehicle developed for this purpose.
DART is a spacecraft designed to collide and alter, even slightly, the orbit of a celestial object. In a recent test conducted by NASA, they were able to hit the Dimorphos asteroid successfully. According to the test results, it is possible to alter the orbit, even if minimally, with this new mechanism.