The European Space Agency said on Tuesday that the chances of a newly discovered asteroid hitting Earth in 2046 have decreased.
It comes after NASA revealed that the asteroid, named 2023 DW, could hit Earth on Valentine’s Day 2046, although the chances were already slim. The asteroid is estimated to be the size of a 50 meter Olympic swimming pool.
Last week, NASA’s risk scale classified the chance of an asteroid hitting Earth as “highly unlikely” and said there was “no reason for public concern.”
The probability of an asteroid hitting Earth is even lower than previously thought in 847, according to Richard Moissl, head of ESA’s planetary defense office. He told Agence France-Presse, the French news agency, that the probability has dropped to one in 1,584.
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Asteroid 2023 DW now has reduced chances of hitting Earth in 2046. (NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office)
“It’s going to drop now in all observations until it reaches zero in a couple of days at the latest,” Moissle said Tuesday. “No one has to worry about this boy.”
NASA also lowered its odds, reducing the odds to one in 770 on Tuesday. This gives the asteroid a 99.87% chance of missing Earth.
“We tend to be a little bit more conservative, but it looks like it’s trending down in probability now,” Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary defense officer, told the news outlet.
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NASA revealed that the asteroid had a low probability of hitting Earth on Valentine’s Day 2046. (REUTERS/Joe Skipper)
Johnson added that the new observations often leave a “region of uncertainty” about where the asteroid will reach its closest approach to Earth.
Earth is still within the uncertainty region, but the probability will temporarily increase until additional observations no longer include Earth and the probabilities are reduced to zero.
If the asteroid were to hit Earth in 2046, there would be about a 70% chance it would land in the Pacific Ocean, but it could also hit the US, Australia or Southeast Asia, Moissle said.
NASA on Tuesday reduced the chances of an asteroid hitting Earth to one in 770. (Getty)
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However, some experts say that Earth can defend itself if an asteroid charges towards the planet. NASA’s Dart spacecraft intentionally rammed the pyramid-sized asteroid Dimorphos last year, deflecting it off course.
NASA’s Davide Farnocchia said the Dart mission “gives us confidence that the mission was going to be successful” against the 2023 DW.