NASA has identified a small asteroid that has been named as Asteroid 2023 HB, and it is on its way for an unusually close encounter with Earth today. Surprisingly, NASA has only recently discovered this asteroid, with the detection occurring on April 16, 2023, just a day before its anticipated flyby close to Earth. According to NASA’s asteroid tracking data, Asteroid 2023 HB has a size of approximately 9.4-foot in size and is a member of the Apollo group of asteroids, which are named after the first asteroid of this kind, 1862 Apollo.
NASA’s CNEOS detected that the asteroid is making its journey at a fiery speed of 44087 km per hour. This asteroid makes one orbit around the Sun in 1501 days, the-sky.org data suggested. “At this time, the asteroid moves away from the Sun at a maximum distance of 629 million kilometers and approaches it at a minimum distance of 139 million kilometers,” the report mentioned. However, the most worrying part is that this small asteroid will make an uncomfortably close approach towards the Earth at a distance of just 121000 miles, which is almost half the distance between the Moon and Earth. It must be noted that the average distance between Earth and the moon is 239000 miles.
Asteroid 2023 HB danger
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for NEO Studies maintains an impact risk assessment list of all the near-Earth objects that will make relatively close approaches to Earth. NASA’s JPL has given the tag of potentially hazardous objects to all the space rocks that approach within 4.6 million miles of Earth and have a size larger than about 150 meters. Although, asteroid 2023 HB doesn’t fall under the category of the potentially hazardous asteroids, but its close distance towards the Earth is what makes this small 9.4-foot asteroid a threat to Earth. A small deviation from its orbit can lead to a direct strike at Earth which can be catastrophic.
NASA’s tech behind asteroid tracking
Astronomers use optical and radio telescopes to study the size, shape, rotation, and physical composition of these asteroids. Those near-Earth objects that come close enough to Earth are studied in great detail using planetary radar. Such detailed characterization is made possible through the use of radio telescopes located at NASA’s Deep Space Network and the National Science Foundation’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.