Giant asteroid set to pass by Earth on March 21
Giant asteroid set to pass by Earth on March 21 Credit: Representational image

NASA informed on Thursday that the largest asteroid set to pass by the Earth this year will approach within 1.25 million miles or 2 million kilometres of our planet on March 21.

The asteroid, dubbed 2001 FO32, is estimated to be about 3,000 feet in diameter and was discovered 20 years ago. NASA said the asteroid will pass by at about 77,000 miles per hour faster than the speed of most asteroids that encounter Earth.

Director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, Paul Chodas said, “We know the orbital path of 2001 FO32 around the Sun very accurately. There is no chance the asteroid will get any closer to Earth than 1.25 million miles.”

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That being roughly 5.25 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, it is still close enough for ‘2001 FO32’ to be classified as a “potentially hazardous asteroid.”

Astronomers are hoping to get a better understanding of the asteroid’s size and a rough idea of its composition by studying the reflection of light off its surface. Amateur astronomers in some parts of the globe should be able to conduct their observations as well, said NASA.

NASA has said that more than 95 per cent of near-Earth asteroids the size of 2001 FO32 or larger have been recorded and none of them has any chance of impacting our planet over the next century.

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