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Asteroid 2000 BF19 Has Small Earth Impact Probability In 2022

Don Yeomans
NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Manager
February 7, 2000

Italian scientist Andrea Milani has announced that the recently discovered close Earth approaching asteroid 2000 BF19 has a very small Earth impact probability in the year 2022. Because there is only 6 days of observations for this object, the most likely scenario will be that, with additional observations, this impact possibility will go away. However, a call for additional observations has been made to verify this likely result. It should be noted that the quoted impact probability of one in a million is well below the "background level" of the Earth being hit by a comparably sized asteroid that has not yet been discovered. The announcement message from Dr. Milani follows:

The automatic close approach monitoring system, set up as an additional service to the NEODyS system, has detected a case of 'virtual impactor', that is an asteroid for which the presently available observations are not enough to allow us to exclude a future impact. This happens at a probability level of roughly one in a million, in the year 2022, and the asteroid is much less than one kilometer in diameter, thus this should not be rated as a serious concern (the rating in the Torino risk scale is still 0). The impact could result by passing through a keyhole in the 2011 close approach; the encounters would then repeat every 11 years, in a typical case of 'resonant return'.

Nevertheless, shame on the astronomical community if we lose this dangerous fellow, which is unfortunately quite dim and fading. The asteroid is named 2000 BF19. Ephemerides for this object can be found from NEODyS at

http://newton.dm.unipi.it/neodys/

I would appreciate the collaboration of those among you who have the capability of observing at magnitudes between 21 and 22; note that the last observation was from the Italian amateur site S. Marcello Pistoiese (but Boattini rated it as a lucky shot, with especially good seeing conditions for our sky).

I apologize for sending out this message without all the necessary documentation, which will be provided later to allow other orbit computers to check our computations, but this object is visible tonight and is fading, so I rate this message as scientifically urgent.

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