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New asteroid has ‘very small chance’ of hitting Earth in 2046

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NASA graphic of asteroid 2023 DW

An asteroid which was discovered late last month has a “very small chance” of impacting Earth on Valentine’s Day in 2046, NASA said on Tuesday, as astronomers worked to gather more data.

2023 DW was first discovered in Chile at the end of February and – after about a week’s worth of observations – has a 1 in 560 chance of hitting Earth at 21:44 UTC on February 14, 2046, according to NASA.

“We’ve been tracking a new asteroid named 2023 DW that has a very small chance of impacting Earth in 2046,” NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Often when new objects are first discovered, it takes several weeks of data to reduce the uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits years into the future,” the office said.

The asteroid is about 50 meters (164 feet) in diameter, more than double in size when compared to the meteor which caused an air burst over Russia in 2013, damaging homes and injuring close to 1,500 people.

2023 DW is currently at the top of the European Space Agency’s Risk List with a 1 on the Torino scale – meaning there is no cause for public concern at this time. Further observations could reassign the risk to zero.

“Orbit analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and update predictions as more data comes in,” NASA said.

In January, a newly-discovered asteroid flew past Earth at a height of 3,600 kilometers (2,200 miles), making it one of the closest encounters ever recorded. And in February, a 1-meter asteroid was discovered only a few hours before entering the atmosphere, lighting up the sky in parts of France and Western Europe.

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