A massive asteroid will sweep past Earth this week on its fourth closest call to us, with a space object recording.
The space rock, dubbed 2023 BU, was discovered by NASA at the end of last week and is now poised to soar through Earth’s atmosphere, 3,400 kilometers from our planet’s surface on Thursday morning.
The asteroid will have its closest encounter around 00:30 GMT on Friday, around 11:30 am Sydney time.
The massive body measures 8.5m x 3.7m – about the same size as the largest African elephants, and about half the size of the infamous Chelyabinsk meteorite that hit Earth in 2013.
While 2023 BA cannot be seen with the naked eye, a live broadcast hosted by the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy will allow space enthusiasts to witness the historic event.
The live stream will be available from Thursday, 19:15 GMT (or 6:15am Friday, Sydney time) for people to catch a glimpse.
Australians will have another chance to spot a space object in early February, when a green comet will sweep past the naked eye.
Most asteroids pass beyond the Moon’s distance, more than 380,000 km away, but this one is much closer.
In fact, it will be Earth’s closest encounter with an asteroid for 300 years.
The asteroid is set to make the fourth closest pass of more than 35,000 approaches to Earth in the past and future, according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, which has been keeping data since 1900.
The space rock will fly close to our planet at a huge speed of 53,000 kilometers per hour, at a distance of 10,500 kilometers from the center of the Earth and 3,400 kilometers from its surface.
Experts have calculated its orbit, and they insist there is no chance of the asteroid hitting Earth on this particular approach.
However, even if it did, it likely wouldn’t reach the surface.
NASA says space rocks less than 25 meters across are more likely to burn up if they enter Earth’s atmosphere, which means they do little harm on Earth.
Although it won’t affect us, the asteroid will technically pass through our planet’s upper atmosphere.
This region, known as the Exosphere, extends between 10,000 and 200,000 kilometers above Earth. However, most scientists do not consider it to be a real part of the Earth’s atmosphere because the air is so thin.
However, asteroid 2023 BU will pass well within the orbit of the geostationary satellite over South America, but it is still far from the International Space Station, 400 km from Earth.
The space rock was discovered Saturday at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Naushny, Crimea, by star astronomer Gennady Borisov — who also discovered the first comet ever seen to travel into the solar system from interstellar space.
2023 BU orbits the Sun every 425 days, while its path occasionally intersects with Earth’s orbital path around our star.
The next one will pass relatively close to us on December 6, 2036, but on that occasion it will be far beyond the moon’s orbit.
The asteroid is half the size of the Chelyabinsk meteorite, which smashed into Earth in Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013 in the largest meteorite strike recorded in more than a century.
More than 1,600 people were injured by the shockwaves from the explosion, which was estimated to be as powerful as 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
Originally published as Huge asteroid passes near Earth