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“Killer” asteroid will pass between Earth and Moon orbits this Saturday

An asteroid labeled “city killer” is unusually approaching our planet this weekend, and will pass between the orbits of Earth and the Moon.

While it has the potential to cause significant damage if it hits a populated area, its passage should be harmless.

On Saturday night (25), the asteroid 2023 DZ2 will fly at a distance of 170 thousand kilometers from Earth. The Moon, by comparison, is about 384,400 kilometers away from Earth.

Referred to as the “city killer”, the asteroid – which measures between 40 and 100 meters – won’t do any of that, but the event is still something remarkable, experts say.

“What is unusual about this object is that it is quite rare for an object of this size to pass this close to Earth. This happens about once every 10 years,” Richard Moissl, head of ESA’s Planetary Defense Office, told CNN .

“But this is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to get, up close, some good measurements of a relatively large body, which is relatively easy to measure for this purpose.”

Near-Earth objects are asteroids and comets with orbits that take them within 193 million kilometers of the Sun, meaning they can “circle in the orbital neighborhood of Earth,” according to NASA.

Experts will observe asteroid 2023 DZ2 with radar and use that to get more accurate measurements of the object, added Moissl.

“City killer” label

Moissl pointed out that the title “city killer” is used by experts in reference to two known asteroid impacts.

In 1908, during the Tunguska event, an asteroid “sent a shock wave and destroyed two thousand square kilometers of forest” in Siberia, explained the expert.

Also, about 50,000 years ago, an iron asteroid hit what is now Arizona, Colorado, creating a crater 1.2 km in diameter and about 180 meters deep.

When space rocks enter Earth’s orbit and hit the surface, “if they happen in uninhabited areas, then [não é] a big concern”, highlighted Moissl.

“If we ever find one of the places [de queda] where we see that this is going to impact the Earth, the first step is to figure out where it’s going to hit the ground, because if it’s in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of the desert, it’s not a big problem. We just need to make sure there is no air traffic or people in the area,” he added.

“That’s where the [termo] ‘town killer’. If such an object were to fall directly on a city, that would be a problem: the whole city would likely be heavily damaged and would have to be evacuated,” he added.

“City killer is a nice slogan. Not a bad description. That’s why we didn’t completely throw it out, because it says it in two words: This is dangerous at the level of being able to destroy a city, ”he explained.

However, that’s not what’s happening with 2023 DZ2. The asteroid, which is in a heliocentric orbit, meaning it is in an orbit and ellipse around the Sun, “will continue to rotate and rotate around the Sun”, he pointed out.

There are currently more than 1,450 near-Earth objects on the “risk list”, Moissl said, and they are added whenever there is “the slightest possibility of impacting”. [a Terra] in the next 100 years”.

“These objects are usually observed a lot. And the measurements are refined,” she added.

Source: CNN Brasil

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