A large asteroid will pass between the Earth and the Moon on Saturday, an event without danger but which only occurs once a decade and will serve as a planetary defense training exercise, AFP learned this Friday from the European Space Agency (ESA).
According to estimates, the asteroid dubbed 2023 DZ2 measures between 40 and 70 meters in diameter, enough to wipe out a large city if it were to hit our planet.
Saturday at 7:49 p.m. Paris time, it will pass "
" to the Earth, less than a third of the distance that separates us from the Moon.
But there is no need to worry, Richard Moissl, head of ESA's planetary defense office, told AFP.
Read alsoThe strange acceleration of the interstellar asteroid Oumuamua finally explained?
Respond to threats
The asteroid was first spotted on February 27 by an observatory in La Palma, one of Spain's Canary Islands.
It will pass about 175,000 kilometers from Earth, at a speed of 28,000 km/hour.
Small asteroids pass over our heads every day, but the passage of such a large one so close to the Earth only occurs every ten years, according to Richard Moissl.
The International Asteroid Warning Network has therefore decided to take advantage of such a closeness, and 2023 DZ2 will be analyzed using a series of instruments such as spectrometers and radars.
The goal is to discover everything that can be learned about an asteroid in just one week, says the scientist.
This will serve as a practice for how the network will "
respond to such a threat
" in the future, he added.
Read alsoHow NASA's Dart "dart" moved the asteroid Dimorphos
Next passage in 2026
According to astronomers' calculations, the asteroid will pass Earth again in 2026, but at a greater distance and will not pose a risk of impact for at least the next 100 years.
Astronomers had detected an asteroid of similar size, 2023 DW, and assessed, at the beginning of March, at a one in 432 chance of a collision with Earth in 2046. But this probability has dropped, following more precise calculations and everything risk is now eliminated.
If such an object were ever to make its way towards us, Earth would not be defenseless.
Last year, NASA's DART spacecraft deliberately crashed into the asteroid Dimorphos, about 11 million kilometers from Earth, and managed to divert its course.