An asteroid arrives 2 million kilometers near Earth

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

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

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

Rather, the approach will offer astronomers “a rare opportunity to take 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 at a distance of about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) – or 5 1/4 times the distance from Earth. to the Moon, according to NASA.

“We know very precisely the orbital trajectory of the 2001 FO32 around the Sun since its discovery 20 years ago and we have followed it since,” said Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), that is managed. by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “There is no chance that the asteroid will approach Earth within 1.25 million kilometers.”

CNEOS uses telescopes and radars to calculate the trajectories of near-Earth objects (NEO).

The reason for the asteroid’s unusually fast close approach is its very tilted and elongated orbit around the Sun, which brings the asteroid closer to the Sun than Mercury and twice as far from the Sun as Mars, the US space agency said. .