Large Asteroid To Pass By Earth On March 21, 2021 (Sunday)
LARGE ASTEROID – A large asteroid that is expected to pass by Earth will approach within 2 million km from the planet on March 21, 2021.
According to space agency NASA, the passing by of the said asteroid will allow astronomers to get a rare close look of the space object, as per the report from ABS-CBN News.
Identified as 2001 FO32, it is about 3,000 feet in diameter. It was discovered about 20 years ago.
“We know the orbital path of 2001 FO32 around the Sun very accurately,”
“There is no chance the asteroid will get any closer to Earth than 1.25 million miles.”
This came from a statement by Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies.
The asteroid is roughly 5.25 times the distance of the planet from the Moon but still close enough for it to be classified as a “potentially hazardous asteroid.”
2001 FO32 would pass by at about 77,000 miles per hour faster than the speed at which most asteroids encounter Earth.
“Currently, little is known about this object, so the very close encounter provides an outstanding opportunity to learn a great deal about this asteroid,”
This was according to Lance Benner, principal scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who said that astronomers hope to get a better understanding of the asteroid’s size and a rough idea of its composition by studying light reflecting off its surface.
“When sunlight hits an asteroid’s surface, minerals in the rock absorb some wavelengths while reflecting others,”
“By studying the spectrum of light reflecting off the surface, astronomers can measure the chemical ‘fingerprints’ of the minerals on the surface of the asteroid.”
Amateur astronomers in some parts of the globe should also be able to conduct their own observations.
“The asteroid will be brightest while it moves through southern skies”
“Amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere and at low northern latitudes should be able to see this asteroid using moderate size telescopes with apertures of at least eight inches in the nights leading up to closest approach, but they will probably need star charts to find it.”
Based on the report, NASA said that more than 95 percent of near-Earth asteroids the size of 2001 FO32 or bigger have been categorized and none of them has any chance of colliding with our planet over the next century.
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