Astronomers: The late observation of the passage of an asteroid near Earth shows a lack of ability to predict what threatens Earth
Astronomers say that observing an asteroid the size of a pickup truck just a few days before it passed Earth on Thursday, January 26, 2023, although it did not pose any threat to humans, highlights a lack of predictability of what could cause actual damage.
For years, the US Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has given priority to detecting asteroids much larger and more threatening to the existence of humanity than the small space rock BU 2023, which moved 2,200 miles from Earth’s surface, a distance closer than some satellites.
And even if it went towards Earth, the atmosphere would crush it, and only small fragments would reach the land. But BU2023 is the smallest of a group of asteroids between five and 50 meters in diameter, which also includes those as large as an Olympic swimming pool.
It is difficult to detect objects of this size until they are much closer to Earth, which complicates any efforts to prepare for what could affect a populated area.
NASA says that the probability that a space rock, called a meteorite, will collide with the Earth when it enters the atmosphere, its size in this range is relatively low, and this varies according to the size of the asteroid, as it is estimated that the probability of targeting a rock with a diameter of five meters is once a year, and a rock with a diameter of 50 meters is Once every thousand years.
But with the current capabilities, astronomers cannot know when such rocks are heading towards Earth until days before.
“We don’t know where most of the asteroids that could cause local and regional devastation are,” said Terek Daly, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says that the roughly 20-meter-diameter meteorite that exploded in 2013 over Chelyabinsk, Russia, is something that happens once every 100 years. The fall of the meteorite caused a shock wave that smashed tens of thousands of windows and caused damage amounting to 33 million dollars, and no one saw it before it entered the Earth’s atmosphere.