Ufa! The risk of asteroid 2022 AE1 hitting Earth in 2023 removed

New observations of asteroid 2022 AE1 have definitively ruled out the possibility of it hitting Earth. The information was updated by Sentry, NASA's impact monitoring and warning service, which removed 2022 AE1 from the list of monitored objects. This means that the asteroid, measuring about 70 meters, has no risk of hitting Earth in the next few years.

2022 AE1 has received special attention from astronomers in recent days because of a small chance of impacting Earth in 2023. Shortly after its discovery, calculations pointed to a 0.034% chance of the asteroid hitting our planet on July 4, 2023. After further observations, 6 days after discovery, these odds were raised to 0.055% and to 0.067% the next day.

Artist's rendering of an asteroid passing close to Earth – Credits: ESA / P. Carril

On January 14th, the odds were updated to 0.06%. After that, the asteroid "hidden" in the moon's brightness and was only seen again on Thursday, the 20th. With the data from 16 days of observation, the precision of the calculations was increased and the chances of impact were reduced to just 0.0014%. Finally, last Saturday, January 22, the latest data completely ruled out the chances of an impact with Earth.

Following the evolution of these calculations, from the initial alert until the risk was definitively removed, may have even made many people apprehensive, but this outcome was, in a way, already expected, both for astronomers and for those who followed the case. through the Digital Look.

The concern to reassure readers about the risk of impact was present from our first article on the subject to the conversation with astronomer Cristóvão Jacques in Olhar Espacial on the 14th. Even on that occasion, it was informed that we would spend some days without updates (for account of the Moon) but that, probably, the risk of impact would be removed after that.

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2022 AE1 still deserves attention

From the data we already have on the asteroid 2022 AE1, it is possible to say that it will not hit our planet in 2023 and probably does not pose a risk for the next 200 years either. But you still need to keep an eye on it for two reasons: its orbit data is still very imprecise and it passes very close to Earth's orbit.

One of the most important parameters for determining the risk of an asteroid is the MOID, the acronym for minimum orbital intersection distance . That would be the shortest distance between two orbits, that of the asteroid and that of Earth. If this distance is less than the radius of the Earth (6,371 km), it means that it could reach Earth one day, if the two passed through this intersection at the same time.

It's like the intersection of two roads. If one of them passes over the other by a viaduct (MOID greater than the height of the car), there is no possibility of a car from one lane reaching the other. If the roads cross at the same level (MOID = 0), an impact may occur if the two vehicles pass through the intersection at the same time.

It turns out that the MOID between asteroid 2022 AE1 and Earth was calculated to be about 13,000 km. This means that if one day they both pass through this intersection at the same time, the asteroid will dangerously pass just over 6,000 km from the Earth's surface. But for now, there is no forecast of any such close passage in the future.

Approaching Asteroid 2022 AE1 in July 2023. Image: JPL/NASA

It is never too much to remember that asteroids can undergo small deviations in their orbit over the years. Therefore, it is important to continue monitoring these objects that pass close to Earth. In any case, it is still a relief to know that, at least for now, there is no more chance of 2022 AE1 hitting our planet in 2023.

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The post Whew! Removed the risk of asteroid 2022 AE1 hitting Earth in 2023 appeared first in Digital Look.

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