Large asteroid to (safely) zip past Earth

A NASA handout image of an asteroid
A NASA handout picture of an asteroid

The most important asteroid to go by Earth this 12 months will swing closest on Sunday, giving astronomers a uncommon probability for take a look at an area rock that shaped on the daybreak of our photo voltaic system.

Whereas in astronomical phrases this marks a detailed encounter with the asteroid—referred to as 2001 FO32—NASA says there isn’t any risk of a collision with our planet “now or for hundreds of years to return”.

The closest it would get can be two million kilometres (1.25 million miles) away, in accordance with the US house company.

That’s roughly 5.25 occasions the space of the Earth from the Moon however nonetheless shut sufficient for 2001 FO32 to be categorised as a “probably .”

“We all know the orbital path of 2001 FO32 across the Solar very precisely,” stated Paul Chodas, director of the Middle for Close to Earth Object Research.

NASA says 2001 FO32 will go by at about 124,000 kilometres per hour (77,000 miles per hour) sooner than the velocity at which most asteroids encounter Earth.

The asteroid is estimated to be about 900 metres (3,000 ft) in diameter and was found 20 years in the past.

Astronomers are hoping to get a understanding of the asteroid’s dimension and a tough thought of its composition by finding out gentle reflecting off its floor.

NASA: Large asteroid to pass by Earth March 21
Graphic displaying the orbit of 2001 FO32 asteroid, which is to go closest to the Earth on March 21

“When daylight hits an asteroid’s floor, minerals within the rock take in some wavelengths whereas reflecting others,” NASA stated.

“By finding out the spectrum of sunshine reflecting off the floor, astronomers can measure the chemical ‘fingerprints’ of the minerals on the floor of the asteroid.”

The asteroid can be at its closest to Earth at round 1600 GMT on Sunday, in accordance with the Paris Observatory, France’s astronomy analysis centre.

Beginner astronomers in some elements of the globe ought to be capable to conduct their very own observations.

The asteroid can be brightest whereas it strikes via southern skies, Chodas stated.

“Beginner astronomers within the and at low northern latitudes ought to be capable to see this asteroid utilizing moderate-size telescopes with apertures of at the very least eight inches within the nights main as much as , however they are going to most likely want star charts to seek out it,” he added.

NASA stated greater than 95 p.c of near-Earth asteroids the dimensions of 2001 FO32 or bigger have been catalogued and none of them has any probability of impacting our planet over the following century.

NASA says the following time 2001 FO32 can be near Earth can be 2052.

Sixty-six million years in the past an asteroid roughly twice the diameter as Paris crashed into Earth and worn out 75 p.c of life on the planet.

Large asteroid to pass by Earth on March 21: NASA

© 2021 AFP

Massive asteroid to (safely) zip previous Earth (2021, March 21)
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