An asteroid the size of a box truck is predicted to make one of the closest approaches by a near-Earth object ever recorded on Friday, according to NASA. While there is no risk of the asteroid impacting Earth and will harmlessly zoom over the southern tip of America, this is an "extraordinarily close approach".
Asteroid 2023 BU was discovered by amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov from his observatory in Nauchnyi, Crimea on January 21. Days later, NASA's Scout impact hazard assessment system, which is maintained by the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), ruled out the asteroid as an "impactor".
"Scout quickly ruled out 2023 BU as an impactor, but despite the very few observations, it was nonetheless able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinarily close approach with Earth," said Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at JPL who developed Scout.
"In fact, this is one of the closest approaches by a known near-Earth object ever recorded," Mr Farnocchia added.
While this approach will have no impact on Earth, the same cannot be said about 2023 BU. This "extraordinarily close approach" is predicted to significantly alter its path around the Sun.
Before encountering Earth, the asteroid's orbit around the Sun was roughly circular, taking 359 days to complete its orbit about the Sun. After this encounter, the asteroid's orbit will be more elongated "moving it out to about halfway between Earth's and Mars' orbits at its farthest point from the Sun", NASA reported.
After its encounter, the asteroid's orbit will be more elongated, moving it out to about halfway between Earth's and Mars' orbits at its farthest point from the Sun.