We will be safe this time, NASA data shows. But what about next time?
An asteroid nearly a half-mile wide will make its seeping pass by Earth in late-March, allowing astronomers to study the massive alien rock up close.
The rocky relic named 2001 FO32 was discovered by NASA twenty years ago.
The agency monitors its whereabouts at all times due to its large size.
The 2,230-foot wide boulder from space will whizz by Earth on 21 March at a speed of more than 750,000 mph.
Yes. You heard that right. 2001 FO32 is moving at seven hundred and seventy thousand miles per hour. This is extremely fast for an asteroid and will make it tough for astronomers to trace.
“Currently, little is known about this object, so the very close encounter provides an outstanding opportunity to learn a great deal about this asteroid,” NASA JPL Principal Scientist Lance Benner said. The object’s highly-inclined orbit around the sun makes it extremely fast-moving.
“As the rock nears the inner solar system, it picks up speed before whipping back around toward deep space before turning back towards the sun, orbiting once every 810 days,” Space.com reports. “The rock is deemed a ‘potentially hazardous asteroid,’ or PHA, by the CNEOS.”
The Appollo-class asteroid orbits the sun about every two and a half years. However, it won’t be returning to Earth until its next scheduled flyby in the year 2052.
Does 2001 FO32 pose a threat?
NASA claims there is no chance that 2001 FO32 will impact the Earth this time. But it’s safe to say that the outcome would be devastating if 2001 FO32 ever did.
This all comes with a warning. It’s no big secret that the number of fireball sightings has been steadily increasing each year. Furthermore, there has been a massive uptick in near-Earth asteroids. (i.e. the Earth could be entering a space debris field)
A report titled Increased fireball sightings coincide with the spike in Near-Earth asteroids points out how “the number of fireballs has been ramping up over the past decade.”
“In 2010, for example, there were a total of 18 reported fireball sightings,” the editor wrote. “Compare that to 386 in 2020. The contrast is concerning.”
It’s also been projected that NASA will have over 125,000 near-Earth objects listed by the end of 2026. The projection lends further credence to the theory that the Earth could be going through a sort of debris field.
Additionally, an asteroid the size of a school bus safely passed by Earth on Friday at a distance of 448,000 miles.
JPL California Institute of Technology
The object is known as 2021 EE3 won’t be back for another pass until 2032.
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