This Yr’s Largest And Quickest Asteroid Is About To Zoom Previous Earth

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An artist’s illustration of an asteroid flyby (Credit score: NASA)

On March 21, 2021, Earth could have its closest encounter with 2001 FO32 — the most important and fastest-known asteroid scheduled to fly previous our planet this yr. The area rock, estimated to be between 2,526 toes ( 0.47 miles) and 5,577 toes (1.05 miles) in diameter, will zip previous Earth at a staggering pace of 76,980 miles per hour (123,887 km/h). To place it in perspective, that’s about 100 occasions quicker than the pace of sound!

FO32 is among the many hundreds of “near-Earth objects,” or NEOs, that orbit the solar in our cosmic neighborhood. It was first noticed by the Lincoln Close to-Earth Asteroid Analysis (LINEAR) program telescopes in New Mexico on March 23, 2001. The area rock’s extremely elliptical orbit — which takes 810 days, or simply over two years — brings it near Earth each thirty to fifty years. Whereas FO32 will revisit our planet on March 22, 2052, the 2021 flyby shall be its closest one within the subsequent 200 years!

The asteroid and Earth are seen on the left of this orbital map on the ‘blue’ Earth orbit line – the orbit of the asteroid is seen by the tall white strains (Credit score: NASA)

NASA researchers have tagged the asteroid as a “probably hazardous object.” The classification refers to all area rocks that may make shut approaches to Earth and are giant sufficient — over 500 toes (140 meters) in diameter — to trigger important harm within the occasion of impression. Thankfully, FO32, which shall be 1.three million miles away — or about 5 occasions the space between the Earth and the Moon — at its closest strategy at 11:03 a.m. EST (1603 GMT) on March 21, 2021, poses no such threat throughout this, or any future encounters.

Stargazers hoping to catch a glimpse of flyby asteroids often have to attend patiently for at the least 5 to 10 minutes for his or her yard telescopes to detect the area rocks which appear as if slow-moving “stars.” Nevertheless, since FO32 is transferring at such fast speeds, observers with an eight inch or bigger telescope will be capable to watch the area rock zip by in real-time throughout its closest strategy. Whereas FO32 shall be seen worldwide, on account of its place within the southern sky, the perfect views shall be reserved for Southern Hemisphere residents.

Sources: Earthsky.org, BGR.com, livescience.com


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