Sun. Apr 11th, 2021

Asteroid the dimensions of the Golden Gate Bridge to zoom by Earth

An asteroid comparable in measurement to the Golden Gate Bridge will whip previous Earth later this month — the biggest and quickest asteroid to go near our planet this 12 months. 

However don’t fret, it will not get too shut. 

The asteroid, formally recognized by NASA as 231937 (2001 FO32), is about 0.5 to 1 mile in diameter, making it bigger than about 97% of asteroids however small in comparison with massive asteroids, in keeping with Area Reference. It has an orbit interval of 810 days. 

The asteroid is about to come back inside 1.25 million miles of Earth at 11:02 a.m. ET on March 21, simply someday after the spring equinox. That is shut sufficient for NASA to categorise it as “probably hazardous” in its database of near-Earth asteroids. 

“That is the closest predicted strategy in 2021 for any reasonably massive asteroid, the place ‘reasonably massive’ means no less than a number of hundred meters in measurement,” Paul Chodas, the Director of the Middle for Close to-Earth Object Research, advised CBS Information on Wednesday. 

Nonetheless, it poses no danger of influence, and scientists know its path very precisely. 


A creative rendering creates an approximate panorama of 2001 FO32 with Mount Everest within the background. Form, colour and texture of the asteroid are imagined. 

Area Reference

It would zoom previous at virtually 77,000 miles per hour, or 21 miles per second — peaking scientists’ pursuits as one of many quickest house rocks recognized to fly previous Earth, in keeping with EarthSky. Asteroids are designated as “probably hazardous” after they come inside about 4.65 million miles of Earth, and are bigger than 500 ft in diameter. 

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At its brightest, the house rock will nonetheless be “far too faint” to be seen with the bare eye, Chodas stated. 

“An enchanting facet of asteroids is that observers utilizing yard telescopes can spot them as apparently slow-moving ‘stars,'” EarthSky stated. “It usually takes no less than 5 to 10 minutes for yard telescope customers to detect an area rock’s movement in entrance of its starfield. However asteroid 2001 FO32 will probably be sweeping previous Earth at such a quick tempo that, when it is closest, observers utilizing 8-inch or bigger telescopes would possibly be capable of detect its movement – its drift in entrance of the celebs – in real-time.”

Observers at decrease northern latitudes and within the southern hemisphere may have the most effective probability to identify it at its brightest, Chodas stated. Star charts will assist find it.  

Telescopes in New Mexico which are a part of the Lincoln Close to-Earth Asteroid Analysis program detected the asteroid on March 23, 2001. The MIT Lincoln Laboratory program, funded by the U.S. Air Drive and NASA, has been monitoring it since. 

The present largest recognized menace is an asteroid referred to as (410777) 2009 FD, which has lower than a 0.2% probability of hitting Earth in 2185, in keeping with NASA’s PDCO. 

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