Illustration of an asteroid in space. (Image credit: Bing Image Creator/News9).
On February 6, 2024, a small asteroid with the designation 2024 BT3 will pass by Earth at a speed of 5.02 kilometers per second. The asteroid measures between 11 and 25 meters in diameter. In comparison, India Gate is 26 meters high. The asteroid’s designation indicates that it was discovered in the year 2024. The asteroid will approach within 53,49,599 kilometers of Earth, or 14 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon. 2024 BT3 belongs to a population of asteroids known as Amors, which have orbits larger than Earth’s, but smaller than Mars’. Asteroids from this population regularly approach both Earth and Mars.
What asteroid will hit Earth?
No major impacts are known for the next 100, or even 1,000 years. However, conventional mathematics cannot accurately predict asteroid trajectories in the distant future, and the difference between simulations and calculations and reality is expected to diverge dramatically over time. While most asteroids in the Solar System are located between Mars and Jupiter, the Arjunas are Earth’s closest neighbors. One asteroid in particular, 2023 FY3, could hit Earth within the next 100 years. Astronomers have shortlisted 20 asteroids that may come uncomfortably close to Earth, and 7,482 (1994 PC1) have been selected for follow-up observations. Another asteroid, Bennu, is expected to come uncomfortably close to Earth in 2182.
When was the last time an asteroid hit Earth?
Every day asteroids rain down from the sky in the form of meteors. Recently, tracking hardware as well as global networks of imaging instruments have managed to capture predicted fireballs. The last such incident took place in February 2023, about a year ago. It was only the seventh time a meteoroid was detected before it turned into a fireball in Earth’s skies. CCTV cameras periodically capture missing cars. In modern history, the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor that hit Earth over the Ural Mountains in Russia caused some injuries, the only such event in recent times.