The most important asteroid to go to Earth this yr is zoomimg by our planet at this time (March 21) and it is an actual velocity demon.
The asteroid 2001 FO32 is hurtling by area at an unusually quick velocity for an area rock, about 77,000 mph (124,000zero kph), and can go by Earth at a secure vary of 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers), in keeping with NASA. It will not come this near Earth once more till 2052.
Asteroid 2001 FO32 is as much as 2,230 toes (680 meters) vast and poses no affect threat to the Earth, however its velocity is peculiar, the company stated.
“The rationale for the asteroid’s unusually speedy shut method is its extremely inclined and elongated (or eccentric) orbit across the solar, an orbit that’s tilted 39 levels to Earth’s orbital aircraft,” NASA officers wrote in a statement. “This orbit takes the asteroid nearer to the solar than Mercury and twice as removed from the solar as Mars.”
Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Digital Telescope Mission in Ceccano, Italy noticed asteroid 2001 FO32 with a telescope within the days earlier than at this time’s flyby. His video and images present the asteroid as a brilliant shifting object within the sky.
Like a rock rolling down a hill, asteroid 2001 FO32 picks up velocity because it falls inward towards the solar after which slows because it heads again out towards Mars. The asteroid takes greater than two years (810 days to be precise) to finish one orbit and will not pose an affect threat to the Earth for hundreds of years, regardless of 2001 FO32’s classification as a “probably harmful asteroid,” NASA stated.
“We all know the orbital path of 2001 FO32 across the solar very precisely, because it was found 20 years in the past and has been tracked ever since,” stated Paul Chodas, director of the Heart for Close to Earth Object Research (CNEOS) overseen by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. “There isn’t a probability the asteroid will get any nearer to Earth than 1.25 million miles.”
NASA and astronomers all over the world often search and track asteroids that could pose an impact hazard to Earth. Asteroid 2001 F032 was first noticed in 2001 by the Lincoln Close to-Earth Asteroid Analysis (LINEAR) program in Socorro, New Mexico. Observations by NASA’s NEOWISE area telescope recommend the asteroid is between 1,300 and a couple of,230 toes (440 to 680 m) vast.
“Even whether it is on the smaller finish of the size, 2001 FO32 will nonetheless be the most important asteroid to go this near our planet in 2021,” NASA officers wrote. “The final notably giant asteroid shut method was that of 1998 OR2 on April 29, 2020. Whereas 2001 FO32 is considerably smaller than 1998 OR2, it is going to be thrice nearer to Earth.”
At its closest level to Earth at this time, asteroid 2001 FO32 will likely be about about 5.25 instances the space between the Earth and moon. Nonetheless, astronomers will watch the asteroid carefully with telescopes to study extra about its dimension, brightness and composition.
“We’re making an attempt to do geology with a telescope,” Vishnu Reddy, affiliate professor on the College of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, stated within the assertion.
Astronomers have been utilizing NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii in current days to find out its chemical composition. They could additionally use NASA’s Deep House Community of radio dishes to bounce alerts off asteroid 2001 FO32 to measure its orbit, how briskly it spins and even decide some floor options like craters.
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“Observations relationship again 20 years revealed that about 15% of near-Earth asteroids comparable in dimension to 2001 FO32 have a small moon,” Lance Benner, principal scientist at JPL, stated within the assertion. “At the moment little is understood about this object, so the very shut encounter gives an excellent alternative to study an amazing deal about this asteroid.”
The asteroid may be seen to beginner astronomers within the Southern Hemisphere because it passes by Earth, however it might be a problem to trace.
“The asteroid will likely be brightest whereas it strikes by southern skies,” Chodas stated. “Newbie astronomers within the southern hemisphere and at low northern latitudes ought to be capable to see this asteroid utilizing average dimension telescopes with apertures of at the very least eight inches within the nights main as much as closest method, however they’ll in all probability want star charts to search out it.”
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