(CNN) — When you hear the words “city killer” and “asteroid” in the same sentence, it’s acceptable to think something bad is about to happen.
But fear not. Even if an asteroid with the potential to cause significant damage approaches our planet in a slightly unusual manner, it will pass harmlessly between the orbits of the Earth and the Moon.
Saturday night, Asteroid 2023 DZ2 It will fly 170,000 kilometers (105,633 miles). The Moon, by comparison, is about 384,400 kilometers (238,855 miles) from Earth.
The so-called “City Killer” asteroid — measuring 40 to 100 meters (131 to 328 feet) — will do nothing of the sort. But experts say its flyby is still significant.
“What’s unusual about this object is that it’s very rare for an object of this size to pass so close to Earth. It happens about once every 10 years,” Richard Moisle, head of ESA’s Planetary Protection Office, told CNN on Friday.
“But this is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to get some good close-up measurements on a relatively large body that’s relatively easy to measure,” he said.
Near-Earth objects are asteroids and comets, which bring them within 195 million kilometers (120 million miles) of the Sun and mean they “can orbit around Earth’s orbit”. According to NASA.
Experts will illuminate asteroid 2023 DZ2 with radar and use it to get precise measurements of the object, Moissl added.
Labeled as “urban killer”.
Moisl said the phrase “city killer” is used by experts to refer to two known asteroid impacts.
During the event Tunguska of 1908, an asteroid “sent a shock wave that leveled 2,000 square kilometers of forest” in Siberia, Moisl said. Also, about 50,000 years ago, between Flagstaff and Winslow on the Colorado Plateau, an iron asteroid struck what is now Arizona, creating a crater 1.2 kilometers (0.75 mi) wide and about 180 meters (600 ft) deep.
When space rocks enter Earth’s orbit and hit Earth, “If they occur in uninhabited areas, then [no] This is a big concern,” Moisl said.
“If we ever find one of the sites where we see it’s going to hit Earth, the first step is to figure out where it’s going to hit Earth, because if it’s in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of the desert, it’s no big deal. We have to ensure that there is no air traffic or people in the area,” he added.
“That’s where the [término] ‘The killer of cities’. If such an object fell directly on a city, this would be a problem: the entire city would be badly damaged and would have to be evacuated.
“City Killer is a good slogan. This is not a bad description. That’s why we didn’t throw it out the window entirely. “Because it says in two words: it’s dangerous enough to destroy a city,” he explained.
However, that is not the case with the 2023 DZ2. An asteroid in a heliocentric orbit, meaning it is in an orbit and ellipse around the sun, “will continue to go around and around the sun,” he said.
There are currently more than 1,450 NEOs on the “danger list,” Moissl said, and “they’re added whenever there’s even the slightest possibility of an impact.” [la Tierra] In the next 100 years.”
“These objects are usually little noticed. And the measures are refined,” he added.