An asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool has a small chance of colliding with Earth on Valentine’s Day 23 years from nowaccording to scientists.
The asteroid, named 2023 DW, has a one in 625 chance of crashing into Earth on February 14, 2046according to the European Space Agency.
The space rock, with a diameter of 50 meters, is ranked number one on the agency’s “Risk List” of space objects that have a probability greater than zero of impacting Earth.
2023 DW is the only asteroid on the list to score a 1 on the Torino scale, which is used to categorize Earth-level impact risk. All others have 0 ratings.
Level 1 indicates that the possibility of a collision is “extremely unlikely without cause for public attention or public concern,” according to the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies.
“It is very likely that the new telescopic observations will lead to reassignment to Level 0,” the scale states.
NASA said it has been tracking 2023 DW, stating it has “a very small chance of impacting Earth in 2046.”
“Often when new objects are first discovered, several weeks of data are needed to reduce uncertainties and adequately predict their future orbits,” NASA Asteroid Watch tweeted.
Orbit analysts will continue to monitor its movement, the agency added.
As noted by Kevin Heider #2023DW (diameter ~48 meters), JPL shows a 1 in 1,200 chance of impact on 14 February 2046. Here an image on Feb. 28.88 UT, mv ~ 20.0, from Sormano2 (G. Ventre) . pic.twitter.com/TWAHNR4JDX
—PS (@Piero_Sicoli) March 1, 2023
If the 2023 DW risk of impacting Earth increases, NASA has shown that it has the technology to protect the planet.
Last year, NASA successfully changed the orbit of a small asteroid to redirect its trajectory in a mission called DART.