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“Newly Discovered School Bus-Sized Asteroid to Pass Close to Earth”

A newly discovered asteroid, named 2024 DW, is set to pass close to Earth on Thursday, February 22. Measuring about 42 feet wide, roughly the size of a school bus, this asteroid will come within 140,000 miles of our planet, which is closer than the average distance to the moon. Despite its proximity, NASA assures us that there is no threat to Earth.

The discovery of asteroid 2024 DW was made by astronomers with the Mt. Lemmon Survey on February 19. This survey is part of the ongoing Catalina Sky Survey, which aims to track near-Earth asteroids that could potentially pose a threat to our planet. The initial spotting of the asteroid was done using the Steward Observatory at Mt. Lemmon Station in Arizona, and subsequent observations from a telescope atop the Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii confirmed its existence.

Asteroid 2024 DW belongs to a group of “potentially hazardous asteroids” that have orbits bringing them within 4.6 million miles of Earth. On February 22, several of these asteroids will pass by our planet, but 2024 DW will be the closest. Another asteroid, similar in size to a school bus, will come within 482,000 miles of Earth, while a jumbo jet-sized asteroid will pass at a comfortable distance of 2.5 million miles.

While the close approach of these asteroids may sound alarming, it is important to note that scientists and NASA regularly monitor near-Earth asteroids to assess any potential impact risks. In fact, just last year, NASA’s DART spacecraft successfully crashed into a small asteroid as part of a test to develop techniques for deflecting asteroids that may pose a threat to Earth. Additionally, in September 2023, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft brought back samples from asteroid Bennu to further our understanding of these celestial objects.

The discovery and tracking of asteroids like 2024 DW are crucial for our understanding of the solar system and for developing strategies to protect our planet from potential impacts. By studying their composition and trajectories, scientists can gain valuable insights into the formation and evolution of our universe.

As we continue to explore and monitor the cosmos, it is reassuring to know that dedicated astronomers and scientists are working diligently to ensure our safety. While asteroid 2024 DW may pass close to Earth, we can rest easy knowing that there is no immediate danger.

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