NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office announced it has been tracking a new asteroid that could potentially hit Earth on Valentine’s Day in 2046.
Although NASA said there is a “very small chance” of impact, orbit analysts will continue to watch the asteroid named 2023 DW.
“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,” NASA’s Asteroid Watch tweeted.
NASA has given 2023 DW a 1 in 560 chance of hitting Earth on Feb. 14, 2046, and the European Space Agency (ESA) gave it a 1 in 625 chance, taking over the top spot on the ESA’s “risk list” for near-Earth objects.
“The good news is there’s only one chance in 500 or so that will actually hit the Earth. But the bad news is, we are sitting ducks, we are defenseless,” Theoretical physicist and professor Michio Kaku, Ph.D., said. .”We have absolutely no way to deflect or blow up an asteroid with our name on it.”
Kaku explained that 2023 DW is a “city buster,” capable of knocking out Washington, D.C., or London if it were to hit Earth.
Forbes reported that the asteroid is the only object that scientists are currently tracking that registers on the Torino Scale, registering as a one on the list — which means it is predicted to pass Earth with no unusual level of danger.
The Torino Scale was created as a tool to communicate an asteroid’s potential impact hazard to the public, categorizing the likelihood and consequences of a potential impact, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies.