The Largest Asteroid 2001 F032 Will Pass By Earth On March 21
An asteroid roughly 3,000 feet in diameter will pass by earth at a distance of approximately 1.25 million miles (two million kilometers) on March 21, according to the US space agency, NASA.
Why this asteroid is important?
The asteroid, 2001 F032, was discovered 20 years ago and it is the largest asteroid to pass by earth this year. Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies said that they knew the orbital path of the asteroid around the Sun very accurately and that there was no chance of it getting closer to earth than 1.25 million miles.
1.25 million miles is roughly 5.25 times than the distance of the earth from moon but still it is close enough to be classified as a “potentially hazardous asteroid”. Also, at 77,000 miles per hour, 2001 F032 is the fastest asteroid to approach earth.
What are the advantages of asteroid?
Lance Benner, principal scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the close encounter with the asteroid is an opportunity for astronomers to get a better understanding of the mineral composition of the asteroid. Sunlight reflecting from its surface will give a better idea of the metals the asteroid is made of.
Opportunity for amateur astronomers
NASA said that amateur astronomers can take advantage of the opportunity to continue their study of asteroids. The US space agency further said that it has catalogued more than 95% of the near earth asteroids and that none of them seem to be impacting the earth over the next century.