The largest asteroid to fly past Earth this year will come close to Earth. It will fly about 2 million kilometers on March 21, NASA reports.
The American space agency said the asteroid’s approach would allow astronomers to see the space object up close enough. According to NASA, the asteroid 2001 FO32 has a diameter of about 914 m and was discovered 20 years ago.
The distance at which the asteroid will be is 5.25 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon. And yet, it’s close enough for 2001 FO32 to be classified as a “potentially hazardous asteroid.” NASA said that the object will travel at a speed of about 124 thousand km / h, this speed exceeds the speed with which most asteroids pass by the Earth.
“Little is known about this object right now, so its approach gives scientists a great opportunity to learn a lot about this asteroid,” explains Lance Banner, chief scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Astronomers hope to better understand the size of the asteroid and get a rough idea of its composition by studying the light reflected from its surface. When sunlight hits the surface of an asteroid in waves, the minerals in the rocks absorb some lengths and reflect others. By studying the spectrum of light reflecting off a surface, astronomers can measure the chemical signatures of minerals on an asteroid’s surface.
Amateur astronomers in parts of the world will also be able to see 2001 FO32. The asteroid will be a very bright object in the night sky.
NASA has stated that more than 95% of near-Earth asteroids as large as 2001 FO32 or larger have been cataloged, and none of them have any chance of colliding with our planet within the next century.
After a brief visit in 2001, FO32 will continue its journey, not getting so close to Earth until 2052.