NASA said on Thursday that this year, the largest asteroid on Earth will approach our planet by approximately 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) on March 21.
NASA said it will allow astronomers to conduct rare close observations of asteroids.
NASA says that this asteroid, 2001 FO32, has a diameter of about 3,000 feet and was discovered 20 years ago.
An asteroid formed at dawn in our solar system will lift off safely on March 21, bypassing the Earth. This object, named 2001 FO32, will be about 1.25M miles (2 million kilometers) from our planet, but it will provide astronomers with a rare opportunity to examine the rocky remains. https://t.co/UQYBFPuIHz pic.twitter.com/WrYZB3Wyno
-NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) March 11, 2021
“We know very precisely the orbital path of 2001 FO32 around the sun,” said Paul Jordas, director of the Near Earth Objects Research Center. “Asteroids cannot be closer to Earth than 1.25 million miles.”
This is approximately 5.25 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon, but still close enough to 2001 FO32 is classified as a “potentially dangerous asteroid.”
NASA stated that the speed of 2001 FO32 will be 77,000 miles faster than the speed at which most asteroids encounter Earth.
Lance Benner, the chief scientist of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “Currently, little is known about this celestial body, so the very close encounter provides an excellent opportunity to learn a lot about asteroids.
NASA said that astronomers hope to better understand the size of the asteroid by studying the light reflected from its surface and have a general understanding of its composition.
NASA said: “When sunlight hits the surface of an asteroid, the minerals in the rock absorb certain wavelengths and reflect others.” “By studying the spectra reflected from the surface, astronomers can measure the minerals on the surface of the asteroid. Chemical’fingerprints’.”
Amateur astronomers in certain parts of the world should be able to make their own observations.
Jordas said: “The asteroid will be the brightest as it travels through the southern sky.
“Amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere and low northern latitudes should be able to see this asteroid at night leading to the closest approach using a medium-sized telescope with an aperture of at least eight inches, but they may need star maps to find it.”
According to NASA, more than 95% of 2001 FO32 or larger near-Earth asteroids have been cataloged, and no asteroid is likely to affect our planet in the next century.
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