According to NASA, the largest asteroid of the year 2021 will graze the Earth this Sunday, March 21, some two million kilometers away, without any risk of collision.
Scientists estimate that the asteroid is less than a kilometer in diameter. The near-Earth asteroid, known as the 2001 FO32, will spin at 124,000 km / h, more than five times the distance between Earth and the Moon.
The rocky body, which is not on its first visit, must pass as close as possible to our planet this Sunday at 5:02 p.m. local time, without any risk of collision, experts say.
“There is no risk of collision with our planet”, reassures the US space agency. Its trajectory is true “sufficiently well known and regular “ to avoid any danger, guarantee the experts of the Paris-PSL Observatory.
The large rocky body is nevertheless classified ” potentially dangerous “, like all asteroids whose orbit is less than 19.5 times the Earth-Moon distance and whose diameter is greater than 140 meters.
Although 2001 FO32 does not get close enough to cause danger, it is still considered a potentially dangerous asteroid given its proximity. The Center for Near-Earth Object Studies tracks and predicts the orbits of these objects, using telescopes and radars to determine if they have a chance of making an impact on Earth.
This asteroid moves faster than the others due to its tilted and elongated orbit around the sun. This orbit brings the asteroid closer to the sun than Mercury, the planet closest to the star in our solar system, and twice as far as Mars, the fourth planet from the sun.
The asteroid “2001 FO32” was observed for the first time in 2001 and has since been the subject of close surveillance. It belongs to the “Apollo” family of near-Earth asteroids, which circle the Sun in at least one year and can cross Earth’s orbit.
“Currently, little is known about this object, so this close passage gives us an incredible opportunity to learn a lot” said Lance Benner, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, on which the Center for the Study of Near Earth Objects (CNEOS) depends.