NASA reported that the asteroid, which is dubbed “Florence”, will pass by our planet at a safe distance of 4.4 million miles. This means that the distance between the 2.7-mile piece of rock and Earth is 18 times larger than that from the Earth to the Moon.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said this asteroid is the largest ever tracked, which means that the flyby will allow the space agency’s experts to monitor an asteroid closer than before.
All other asteroids that passed by us were smaller than Florence, the agency reported. NASA said Florence is the largest asteroid to come so close to the Earth since the agency rolled out its near-Earth asteroid detection program.
NASA to Use Radar Technology on Florence
NASA wants to employ the California-based Goldstone Solar System Radar and the Puerto Rico-based Arecibo Observatory to keep an eye on the space rock as it flies by our planet.
The radar will enable astronomers to detect small details on the surface of the asteroid with a base resolution of 30 feet. The details could provide helpful information on the asteroid’s size, rotation, shape, and morphology.
Researchers used the same radar on the 2014 JO25 asteroid, which got within four lunar distances from our planet in the fall of 2014. The approach enabled researchers to get excellent resolution in studying the asteroid.
Florence was first spotted in 1981 by Australia’s Siding Spring Observatory when it zoomed by the Earth in 1980. The next flyby will be so close in the next 500 years, so scientists have a short time frame to anlyze it.
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