Asteroid the 'Size of a Box Truck' Anticipated to Pass Close to Earth

An asteroid, which NASA described to be around the "size of a box truck" is expected to pass roughly 2,200 miles above the planet’s surface.

Illustration of asteroid floating in Space

Image via Getty/All About Space Magazine

Illustration of asteroid floating in Space

NASA has detected that an asteroid will come daringly close to Earth, though it won’t hit our planet.

According to a press release from the space agency, the asteroid is roughly “the size of a box truck… is predicted to make one of the closest approaches by a near-Earth object ever recorded.” The asteroid, called 2023 BU, is set to pass over the southernmost tip of South America at around 4:27 p.m. and will only be 2,200 miles above the Earth’s surface. It’s “one of the closest approaches by a near-Earth object ever recorded,” the release added.

The asteroid was only discovered on Saturday by amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov, who noticed the rock from the MARGO observatory in Nauchnyi, Crimea. Additional reports of 2023 BU were also coming in, eventually prompting the Minor Planet Center to formally announce the asteroid on Sunday.

NASA’s Scout impact hazard assessment system took all of the observations and data into account before concluding that the asteroid—which is estimated to be 11.5 to 28 feet across—wouldn’t hit Earth.

“Scout quickly ruled out 2023 BU as an impactor, but despite the very few observations, it was nonetheless able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinarily close approach with Earth,” said Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at JPL who developed Scout. “In fact, this is one of the closest approaches by a known near-Earth object ever recorded.”

If the asteroid did happen to make its way to Earth, then it would convert itself into a fireball and mostly disintegrate into our atmosphere. Any debris would conceivably fall as tiny meteorites.

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