CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — An asteroid the size of a delivery truck will pass Earth Thursday evening, one of the closest encounters on record.

NASA insists it will be a near miss with no chance of the asteroid hitting Earth.

NASA said Wednesday that this newly discovered asteroid will zoom 2,200 miles (3,600 kilometers) above the southern tip of South America. That’s 10 times closer than the multitude of communications satellites circling above our heads.

The closest approach will be at 7:27 p.m. EST (9:27 p.m. local time).

Even if the space rock got much closer, the scientists said most of it would burn up in the atmosphere, with some of the larger pieces possibly falling as meteorites.

NASA’s impact hazard assessment system, called Scout, quickly ruled out a strike, said its developer, Davide Farnocchia, an engineer at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“But despite the few observations, he was nevertheless able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinarily close approach to Earth,” Farnocchia said in a statement. “In fact, this is one of the closest approaches to a known near-Earth object ever recorded.”

Discovered on Saturday, the asteroid known as 2023 BU is said to be between 11 feet (3.5 meters) and 28 feet (8.5 meters) in diameter. It was first spotted by the same amateur astronomer in Crimea, Gennady Borisov, who discovered an interstellar comet in 2019. Within days, dozens of observations were made by astronomers around the world, allowing them to refine the orbit of the asteroid.

The asteroid’s trajectory will be drastically altered by Earth’s gravity once it passes. Instead of circling the sun every 359 days, it will move in an oval orbit lasting 425 days, according to NASA.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science and Education Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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