An asteroid the size of a delivery truck will pass Earth in one of the closest encounters ever recorded – coming within a tenth of the orbital distance of several communications satellites.

NASA said the newly discovered asteroid will pass 2,200 miles (3,600 km) from the southern tip of South America at 7:27 a.m. US Eastern Time on Thursday (Friday 12.27 GMT).

NASA said it would be a near miss with no chance of hitting Earth. Even if it gets too close, scientists say most of it will burn up in the atmosphere, with large pieces likely falling as meteorites.

David Fornocchia, an engineer at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said NASA’s impact risk assessment system, called Scout, immediately ruled out a strike.

“But despite very few observations, this asteroid was able to predict an exceptionally close approach to Earth,” Farnocchia said. “In fact, this is the closest approach to a known near-Earth object ever recorded.”

The asteroid, known as 2023 BU, discovered on Saturday is believed to be between 11ft (3.5m) and 28ft (8.5m).

It was first observed by a single amateur astronomer from Crimea, Gennady Borisov, who discovered the interstellar comet in 2019. Within days, astronomers around the world made dozens of observations, which allowed the asteroid’s path to be refined.

That path will change drastically as it goes due to Earth’s gravity. Instead of orbiting the sun every 359 days, it will move in an elliptical orbit lasting 425 days, according to NASA.

With the Associated Press


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