SPACE (KXAN) – Earth will have a close encounter with a small asteroid later today. Named 2023 BU, the rock is about the size of a box truck, according to NASA. There is no risk that the asteroid will wipe out life on Earth.
2023 BU will pass over the southern tip of South America at 6:27 p.m. CST on January 26th. It will be only 2,200 miles above the Earth’s surface. This is closer than some of the satellites currently orbiting Earth.
NASA said in their release that the asteroid is estimated to be between 11ft and 28ft across. If it did enter our atmosphere, it would “turn into a fireball” and break apart. Small meteorites would then fall from the sky.
How can I see the asteroid passing Earth?
You can actually see the asteroid pass over Earth. Today at 1:15 p.m. CST, the Virtual Telescope Project will live stream the close encounter. The service, provided by the Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory in Italy, uses robotic telescopes to broadcast real-time space imagery online.
The asteroid was only recently discovered, on January 21st by amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov.
After the asteroid’s discovery, NASA used the Scout impact hazard assessment system to determine the threat the asteroid could pose. The system quickly predicted a near miss. The system analyzes trajectories of Near Earth Objects (NEO) to determine the risk they pose to life of Earth.