An asteroid the size of a big truck will fly by Earth on Thursday just 2,200 miles above the planet’s surface in one of the closest approaches ever recorded, scientists said.
The asteroid, named 2023 BU, will travel over the Pacific Ocean west of southern Chile, Thursday afternoon Pacific time, according to Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The near-Earth object poses no danger, and there is no expected impact.
“It’s not going to break up,” said Dr. Farnocchia. “It’s going to zoom past Earth, say hello and move on.”
Had it entered Earth’s orbit, the asteroid would have burned upon entry and, at its small size, turned into a fireball. “It’s not going to get close enough for that,” said Dr. Farnocchia.
This will be the fourth-closest approach recorded, according to Dr. Farnocchia. He said there were two instances in 2020 and another in 2021.
Asteroids are big rocks and harder to recognize than comets, which usually have spectacular tails.
2023 BU was first spotted by amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov, from his observatory in Nauchnyi, Crimea, on Jan. 21. More observations were reported to the Minor Planet Center, a clearinghouse for the position measurement of small celestial bodies. And after the discovery was announced, observatories around the globe added to the findings, helping astronomers refine 2023 BU’s orbit, according to NASA.