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Asteroid 2001 FO32: The largest rocky relic to pass by our planet Earth on March 21

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

The official website of NASA reports that on March 21, asteroid 2001 FO32 will get as close to The Earth as possible. It will fly at a distance of about two million kilometers and will be the largest asteroid approaching our planet this year.

Discovered in March 2001, the near-Earth asteroid from the Apollo 2001 FO32 group has a diameter of 914 meters. As it approaches Earth, it will move at an unusually high speed of about 124,000 kilometers per hour. That’s more than most other asteroids.

The reason for this rapid approach lies in the strongly tilted and elongated near-sun orbit of the asteroid. It then brings 2001 FO32 closer to the Sun than Mercury, then takes it twice as far as Mars. The asteroid orbits the star every 810 days.

“Currently little is known about this object, so the very close encounter provides an outstanding opportunity to learn a great deal about this asteroid,” says Lance Benner, the chief scientist, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Despite the fact that the asteroid 2001 FO32 belongs to the category of “potentially dangerous”, there is no threat of collision with the Earth. The nearest distance to it will be about 5.25 times the distance from Earth to the Moon.

“We know the orbital path of 2001 FO32 around the Sun very accurately since it was discovered 20 years ago and has been tracked ever since,” said Paul Chodas, director of NASA’s Center for the Study of Near Earth Objects (CNEOS).

“There is no chance the asteroid will get any closer to Earth than 1.25 million miles,” he added.

After passing the Earth in 2001, FO32 will continue its journey, and will approach our planet as close as possible in 2052: then it will pass approximately seven lunar distances or 2.8 million kilometers.

Scientists estimate 2001 FO32 will be the largest asteroid to fly so close to Earth this year. The last significant approach of a large asteroid took place on April 29, 2020, then 1998 OR2 approached the Earth. Asteroid 2001 FO32 is slightly smaller than 1998 OR2, but it will be three times closer to Earth.

During the rendezvous, astronomers hope to get a more accurate idea of ​​the size and albedo of the asteroid, as well as try to figure out something about its composition using NASA’s IRTF infrared telescope, located at the top of the Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii.

“We’re trying to do geology with a telescope,” said Vishnu Reddy, assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s Moon and Planets Laboratory in Tucson.

When sunlight hits the surface of an asteroid, minerals in the rocks absorb certain wavelengths and reflect others. By studying the spectrum of light reflecting off a surface, astronomers can measure the chemical traces of minerals.

“We’re going to use IRTF to get the infrared spectrum,” Reddy continues.

“Once we know it, we can do a comparison with meteorites to find out what minerals 2001 FO32 contains.”

More than 95 percent of near-Earth asteroids 2001 FO32 or larger have already been discovered, tracked, and cataloged. None of the large asteroids in the catalog have any chance of colliding with Earth over the next century, NASA experts say.

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