A “city killer” asteroid passes between the orbits of the Earth and the Moon

(CNN) Hearing the words “city killer” and “asteroid” in the same sentence, you’d be forgiven for thinking something bad was about to happen.

But there is no need to be afraid. Although an asteroid with the potential to cause significant damage if it slams into a populated area is coming somewhat unusually close to our planet this weekend, it is on its way to pass harmlessly between the orbits of Earth and the Moon.

saturday evening, Asteroid 2023 DZ2 It will fly 105,633 miles (170,000 km). The Moon, by comparison, is about 238,855 miles (384,400 kilometers) from Earth.

Referred to as a “city killer,” the asteroid — which is between 40 and 100 meters (131 to 328 feet) across — would do no such thing. But experts say the flight is still noticeable.

Richard Moesel, head of the Planetary Defense Office at the European Space Agency, told CNN on Friday: “What’s unusual about this object is that it’s fairly rare, that an object of this size passes so close to Earth. It happens about once in 10.” Years”.

“But this is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to get some nice close-up measurements on a relatively large object that is relatively easy to measure for this purpose,” he said.

Near-Earth Objects are asteroids and comets with orbits that reach within 120 million miles of the Sun, meaning they can “orbit through Earth’s orbital neighborhood,” according to NASA.

Moesel added that experts will spot asteroid 2023 DZ2 with radar, and use it to obtain more accurate measurements of the object.

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“City Killer”

The phrase “city killer” was coined by experts, Moissl said, referring to the collision of two known asteroids.

during the Tunguska happened In 1908, an asteroid “caused an earthquake and leveled 2,000 square kilometers of forests” in Siberia, Moisel said. Also, about 50,000 years ago, an iron asteroid slammed into what is today Arizona, between Flagstaff and Winslow on the Colorado Plateau, creating a crater 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers) across and about 600 feet (180 meters) wide.

When space rocks enter Earth’s orbit and strike Earth, “if they happen in unpopulated areas, then… [it’s] Not a major concern.”

“If we ever find a location where we see this is going to impact the Earth, the first step is to figure out where it’s going to hit the Earth because if it’s in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of the desert, it’s not that big of a deal. We just need to make sure it’s not The presence of air traffic or the absence of people in the area.

“That’s where [term] City Killer comes from. If such an object were to descend directly over a city, this would be a problem: the entire city would likely be severely damaged, and would have to be evacuated.

“City killer is a nice slogan. It’s not a bad description. That’s why we didn’t completely throw it out the window. Because it says in two words: This is dangerous on the level of being able to destroy the city,” he explained.

However, that’s not what’s going on with the 2023 DZ2. He said that the asteroid, which revolves around the sun, that is, it is in an orbit and an ellipse around the sun, “will continue to revolve around the sun.”

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There are currently more than 1,450 near-Earth objects on Earth.Risk listAnd they are added whenever there is “the slightest possibility of their impact,” Moisel said [Earth] over the next hundred years.”

“These things are usually noticed more often. And the measurements are refined,” he added.

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