NASA warns city-killer asteroid the size of Leaning Tower of Pisa could hit Earth on Valentine's Day 2046
WASHINGTON, DC: A city-killer asteroid about the size of the Leaning Tower of Pisa could strike Earth on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2046, according to NASA. 2023 DW, which was confirmed on February 28, has a one in 560 possibility of an impact on February 14 at 4.44 pm ET. The expected impact zones extend from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, and from the west to the east coasts of the United States, including Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Washington, DC.
The 165-foot 2023 DW's collision with our planet would be similar to the Tunguska 12-megaton event, which struck Siberia 114 years ago. The 160-foot asteroid, which would have destroyed a large city with a nuclear explosion, instead fell in a forest, causing the loss of more than 80 million trees.
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What is 2023 DW?
Asteroid 2023 DW, which measures about 50 meters (160 feet) in diameter, is categorized as a near-Earth object of the Aten group. On February 26, 2023, it was discovered in San Pedro de Atacama at a distance of 0.07 AU (10 million kilometers) from Earth. It was first detected on Feb 27. Announcing the discovery of the asteroid on Tuesday, NASA stated it "takes several weeks of data to reduce the uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits years into the future."
'No cause for public concern'
Over the past week, the probability of the asteroid hitting Earth has changed. A NASA chart shared by an Italian astronomer on March 1 indicated a one in 1,200 chance, but the chances of that happening rose to one in 710 the following day, and are now one in 560. The analysis of its orbit as of March 7, 2023, consisted of only 62 observations covering a period of 6.8487 days up until March 4, 2023. At this time, there is no cause for public concern about 2023 DW, which is currently ranked first on NASA's Risk List with a 1 on the Torino scale, reports Daily Mail.
"A routine discovery in which a pass near the Earth is predicted that poses no unusual level of danger," says the description on the Torino scale. "Current calculations show the chance of collision is extremely unlikely with no cause for public attention or public concern. New telescopic observations very likely will lead to re-assignment to Level 0." Nasa also tweeted, "Orbit analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and update predictions as more data comes in."
Orbit analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and update predictions as more data comes in. Explore this asteroid and others: https://t.co/vXY8HDjycJ (2/2)— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) March 7, 2023
'It may increase to 10'
While 2023 DW is currently at 1 on the scale, it may rise to 10, designated as "Certain Collisions." In that case, "a collision is certain, capable of causing global climatic catastrophe that may threaten the future of civilization as we know it, whether impacting land or ocean," says the description. "Such events occur on average once per 100,000 years, or less often." NASA says it will inform the public if 2023 DW reaches 3 on the scale.