An asteroid named 2023 BU just passed by Earth, which has sparked the conversation regarding the safety of humans and Earth from an asteroid strike. According to NASA, 2023 BU weighs around 5,000 to 7,000 kg with dimensions of 3.5 to 8.5 meters. NASA had forecasted that the 2023 BU asteroid will zoom over the tip of South Africa while maintaining a distance of 2,200 miles or 3,600 kilometers from Earth’s surface. This meant that the asteroid's distance was even lesser than many geosynchronous satellites which orbit around the Earth. Even after such a close fly-by, NASA had said that the chances of an asteroid impacting the Earth are extremely low. And even if the asteroid would have been toward the Earth’s surface, it still would not have caused any damage. Because of its small size, the asteroid would have just disintegrated due to atmospheric friction. But still, this incident has raised a question of an asteroid hitting the Earth's surface and destroying the human race in a similar manner to that of Dinosaurs. This in turn has favored the DART system by NASA which was a test for a mechanism to change the trajectory of asteroids that are headed toward Earth. As the asteroid made a close flyby of Earth, the gravitational force altered the trajectory of 2023 BU.
2023 BU was discovered just last on January 21 by a Russian astronomer, Gennadiy Borisov, who has very little professional experience. He is known for the discovery of an interstellar comet, 2I/Borisov, which is named after him. He made the discovery from his MARGO observatory in Nauchnyi, Crimea, and conveyed the information to the Minor Planet Center. This new-found information was then posted on the Near-Earth Object Confirmation Page, where astronomers from across the world can use the information to make their observations. After the discovery of the asteroid, astronomers and space agencies across the world started understanding its characteristics of the asteroid. Through this search, the astronomers found out about the weight, dimensions, and trajectory of the asteroid. Through this search, astronomers were able to forecast that the asteroid will be passing significantly close to the Earth’s surface.
NASA also significantly invested its time in the investigation. NASA’s Scout impact hazard assessment system used the data published on the Near-Earth Object Confirmation Page managed by the MPC or the Minor Planet Center. Through the analysis of this data, the Scout impact hazard assessment system of NASA was able to predict the close fly-by of 2023 BU. The Scout impact hazard assessment system is managed by the Center for Near Earth Object Studies which analyzes every known asteroid’s orbit to predict the future trajectory of these asteroids in case they are headed toward Earth. NASA has made a significant development in the field of monitoring asteroids. The DART system developed by NASA was able to successfully change the trajectory of the asteroid under concern. But the system is still in a much nascent stage to actively protect the planet in case an asteroid starts heading towards us.