NASA says that while such close encounters are common, an asteroid this large “happens only once a decade.”

WASHINGTON — A newly discovered asteroid is set to fly past Earth this weekend — but despite its relatively close approach, there’s no need to worry.

The space rock, named 2023 DZ2, will approach Earth on Saturday, March 25. NASA Center for the Study of Near-Earth Objectsthe asteroid will fly by at a safe distance of more than 108,750 miles – just under half the average distance of the Moon from Earth.

NASA estimates that 2023 DZ2 is 134 to 301 feet in diameter.

Asteroid Watch’s official social media agency account says while such close approaches are common, one to an asteroid this large “happens only once a decade, presenting a unique opportunity for science.”

According to EarthSky2023 DZ2 was discovered in February by astronomers at the La Palma Observatory in the Canary Islands. Closest approach is estimated at approximately 3:51 PM ET on Saturday, March 25.

“Astronomers at the International Asteroid Warning Network are using this close approach to learn as much as possible about 2023 DZ2 in a short amount of time – good practice for #PlanetaryDefense in the future if a potential asteroid threat is ever identified,” NASA Asteroid Watch reported on Twitter.

Will asteroid 2023 DZ2 hit Earth?

Previously, scientists believed that the recently discovered asteroid could collide with the Earth on March 27, 2026. On Tuesday, officials removed the asteroid from NASA’s Sentry risk table, a system that continuously monitors asteroids for potential collisions with Earth over the next 100 years.

Asteroid 2023 DW

2023 DZ2 was not the only new asteroid discovered recently. At the end of February, scientists at an observatory in Chile spotted asteroid 2023 DW, which had a “very low probability of hitting Earth.” Valentine’s Day in 2046.

The asteroid is about 161 feet in diameter, according to NASA. The notable space rock was initially placed on NASA’s Impact Monitoring List and the European Space Agency’s Risk List.

An asteroid the size of 2023 DZ2 or 2023 DW is “likely to cause localized damage in the impact zone.” according to NASA.

As of March 22, both 2023 DZ2 and 2023 DW have been removed from the NASA Sentry risk list.

What will happen if an asteroid collides with the Earth?

So far, no current asteroid represents high risk for a collision with the Earth, NASA is constantly working out ways to protect the planet.

Last year, the space agency tested its Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft, otherwise known as DART, to provide insight into the planet’s defenses. The DART has successfully latched into a harmless asteroid, knocking it into a modified orbit in September 2022.

The mission proved successful and raised hopes that we might have a fighting chance if the killer asteroid ever comes close to Earth.

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