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Asteroid coming 2 million kilometers close to Earth

Orbit of 2001 FO32 as it travels around the Sun (white ellipse). Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Paris, 15 March 2021. – No reason to worry: The 2001 FO32 asteroid will be at its closest to Earth on 21 March, at a distance of about 2 million kilometers, the U.S. space agency NASA said.

“There is no threat of a collision with our planet now or for centuries to come”, NASA said.

The approach will rather provide 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 very high speed and a distance of about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) – or 5 1/4 times the distance from Earth to the Moon, NASA said.

“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 (CNEOS), 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.”

CNEOS uses telescopes and radar to compute near-Earth objects’ (NEO) trajectories.

The reason for the asteroid’s unusually speedy close approach is its highly inclined and elongated orbit around the Sun, which takes the asteroid closer to the Sun than Mercury and twice as far from the Sun as Mars, the U.S. space agency said.

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