A perhaps unforgettable Valentine's Day, that of 2046: according to data processed by NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool could hit our planet in 23 years and on the day of lovers.
Minimal, but not impossible, the chances of impact: according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory they are 1 in 560.
Davide Farnocchia, an engineer at JPL in Pasadena, California, immediately reassured: "It doesn't present itself in a particularly worrying way."
2023 DW, this is the name of the asteroid, was spotted for the first time in space on February 2nd. It is currently moving at about 15.5 miles per second (25 kilometers per second) and is at a distance of more than 11 million miles (18 million kilometers) from Earth, completing a cycle around the Sun every 271 days.
However, 2023 DW is also the only 'space object' included in NASA's risk list classified 1 and not zero.
Nevertheless, the engineers warned that the probability of impact could change dramatically: "Often when new objects are first discovered," noted NASA's Asteroid Watch on Twitter, "it takes several weeks of collected data to reduce uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits years into the future."
Very often, in short, the threat associated with a specific object decreases as new data is acquired and processed.
Always Farnocchia, in an email sent to CNN, explained that it could be a few days before further elements to be analyzed can be collected due to the proximity of the asteroid to the moon. "The last full moon was two days ago. Very bright and large in the sky does not allow a clear and immediate view of 2023 DW. But the asteroid - he added - will remain observable for weeks (even months, thanks to the use of larger telescopes): in this way we can get more data to analyze in detail".
Farnocchia also recalled the success of the Dart probe launched last September against the asteroid Dimorphos to divert its trajectory.