The interplanetary interloper won’t come closer than 1.25 million miles to Earth, but it will present a valuable scientific opportunity for astronomers.
The largest asteroid predicted to pass by our planet in 2021 will be at its closest on March 21, providing astronomers a rare opportunity to get a good look at a rocky relic that formed at the dawn of our solar system.
Called 2001 FO32, the near-Earth asteroid will make its closest approach at a distance of about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) – or 5 1/4 times the distance from Earth to the Moon. There is no threat of a collision with our planet now or for centuries to come.
“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 the Center for Near Earth Object Studies, which is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “There is no chance the asteroid will get any closer to Earth than 1.25 million miles.”
The largest asteroid that is expected to pass by our planet in 2021, twice as tall as the tallest building in the world, will come closest to Earth on March 21, NASA announces. This event will give astronomers a rare opportunity to take a look at this relic from the formation of the Solar System.
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