March 06, 2021
Experts have said that the large asteroid may be hazardous but are confident that the chances of impact are low.
Asteroid 231937 (2001 FO32) has been categorized by NASA as an Apollo-Asteroid that will travel past Earth within a distance of 2,016,424 km and is said to pass us on March 21, 2021.
Although the chances of the asteroid hitting Earth are slim to none, the experts have classified the asteroid as potentially dangerous, being it is the same size as the Golden Gate Bridge.
Image of an asteroid | Source: Pixabay/ Alexander Antropov
Because the incoming asteroid is larger than 500 feet in diameter, measuring between 0.5 and 1 mile in diameter, and comes within the 4.65 million mile range of our planet, it is classified as a potential hazard.
The asteroid is an outlier forming part of the top three percent of asteroids where size is concerned. In terms of big asteroids, this one is still considered generally small. Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, explained:
"This is the closest predicted approach in 2021 for any moderately large asteroid, where 'moderately large' means at least several hundred meters in size."
GOING DOWN IN HISTORY
This asteroid is also going down in the records as one of the fastest space rocks to travel so closely past Earth as it will be flying at a staggering speed of 21 miles per second.
231937 (2001 FO32) is on an 810-day orbit, which the experts are well acquainted with. 190 observations were used to track and determine the asteroid's orbit, which was initially started in 2001.
NOT FOR THE NAKED EYE
Despite the magnanimous size of the flying space rock, it won't be visible to the naked eye, but backyard telescope users stand a much greater chance of catching a glimpse of the asteroid.
An asteroid's characteristics allow it to be seen through the lens of a telescope with the same clarity as one would if you were watching a star moving slowly. EarthSky explained:
"Asteroid 2001 FO32 will be sweeping past Earth at such a fast pace that, when it's closest, observers using 8-inch or larger telescopes might be able to detect it."
EMPIRE STATE BUILDING
The Golden State Bridge-sized asteroid isn't the only one that the experts are zoned in on at the moment. Asteroid Apophis will be closely passing by the planet on March 5, 2021.
Apophis isn't labeled as dangerous as it makes its way across our path this time, but the asteroid named after the Egyptian god of chaos may be the cause of turmoil in the years to come.
This asteroid moves past Earth in close proximity once every ten years, resulting in this flyby as an opportunity for NASA to gather as much information about the space rock as possible.
Apophis measures almost as tall as the Empire State building as it is 370 meters wide. It makes a complete journey around the sun every 324 days, meeting up with our planet every decade.