Asteroid 2001 FO32 the largest space rock to fly by Earth in 2021, closest approach on 21 March

Near-Earth asteroid 2001 FO32 – the largest asteroid to pass by Earth in 2021 – is going to make its closest approach of Earth on 21 March. In a blog post, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said that there is no threat of collision from the asteroid, which is going to be at its closest distance to our planet on 21 March, at a speed of 1,24,000 kmph. Speaking about 2001 FO32, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies Dr Paul Chodas said that the orbital path of this asteroid is accurately known, since 2001 FO32 has been tracked for the last 20 years. The asteroid will not come closer than 1.25 million miles to Earth, Chodas added.

At the distance the asteroid is approaching Earth, it is safe, it has been called potentially hazardous because, in astronomical terms, the distance of 1.25 million miles (2 million km) is a fairly close approach. It will present astronomers and space enthusiasts with the opportunity to observe the asteroid closely. They can study the asteroid’s brightness, reflectiveness and size at the closest observable distance from Earth. Astronomers will also be able to get a rough idea of the composition of this asteroid.

 Asteroid 2001 FO32 the largest space rock to fly by Earth in 2021, closest approach on 21 March

A asteroid has got caught in the Earth’s orbit making it a natural satellite of our planet, similar to our moon.

Vishnu Reddy, Associate Professor at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, said that they are attempting to study the geology of the asteroid using a telescope. To study 2001 FO32, a 3.2-meter telescope perched at the top of the dormant volcano Mauna Kea in Hawaii will be used.

The blog post also says that asteroid 2001 FO32 is not going to get close to Earth again until 2052, and when that happens, it will pass by at 1.75 million miles (~2.8 million km) away.

2001 FO32 was first discovered on 23 March 2001 in New Mexico by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR). The asteroid has an elliptical orbit, and it takes 810 days to orbit around the sun.