Space experts predict a large asteroid could hit Earth just in time to ruin Valentine’s Day – in 2046.
The 50-metre wide asteroid, known as 2023 DW, is forecast to take more than two decades to reach us, perhaps almost three.
The European Space Agency discovered 2023 DW on 26 February and has estimated it has a 1-in-607 chance of affecting Earth. The agency also predicted the asteroid could potentially hit on 14 February 2046.
The asteroid is projected to be the length of an Olympic swimming pool, CBS News reported, though its “size uncertainty could be large”.
Scientists have added 2023 DW to the so-called “risk list”, which details objects floating through space that have the potential to affect Earth. They have ranked it a 1 on the Torino scale, a method developed in 1999 that rates space objects’ risk of colliding with Earth.
That means scientists expect, as of today, the asteroid “poses no unusual level of danger” and “the chance of collision is extremely unlikely, with no cause for public attention or public concern,” according to Nasa’s Center for Near Earth Objects. But 2023 DW stands apart from the other 1,448 asteroids on the risk list as the only one with a ranking higher than 0.
Nasa’s planetary defense coordination office told CBS News that its risk of colliding with Earth is currently “very small”. Italian astronomer Piero Sicoli predicted the chance of 2023 DW hitting Earth was 1 in 400 and devised a map predicting where the asteroid could hit. “Surely, this possibility will soon be ruled out,” he tweeted.