Science – The asteroid should fly relatively close to Earth on Sunday

NEW YORK / PARIS (dpa) – Probably the largest asteroid, which scientists estimate is approaching Earth this year, will fly over our planet on Sunday (March 21).

The US space agency “NASA” announced that the celestial body “2001 FO32”, which has a diameter of several hundreds of meters, will approach the Earth to about two million kilometers. This is more than five times the distance from Earth to the Moon.

According to NASA, there is no risk of a collision – neither now nor in the future. “It is stable and not on a precarious road,” said Detlev Kuchen, an asteroid expert from the European Space Agency (ESA) of the German news agency (DPA).

“We know very well the 2001 FO32 orbit around the sun,” said Paul Chodas of the Center for the Study of Near-Earth Objects in California. “We’ve been following it since it was discovered 20 years ago.” “It is impossible for an asteroid to approach the Earth for a distance of more than two million kilometers.”

With the right equipment, Kuchen said, amateur astronomers can also see the asteroid. Two million kilometers is nothing within the solar system.

According to the information, “2001 FO32”, which orbits the sun once every 810 days, will fly through the Earth at a speed of about 124,000 kilometers per hour – and then approach again in the year 2052. NASA scientists want to seize the opportunity during the flight to get a closer look at the asteroid . “We don’t know much about him,” Cochin said.

Esa has its own program for looking at things that are important to Earth. “2001 FO32” – if not flying a harmless distance – his size would be an ideal candidate for trying to distract him from his career to avoid a possible collision with the ground. An asteroid of this size could destroy an entire country, Cochin said. By comparison, the explosion of a plot of land 20 meters high in 2013 caused widespread damage in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. About 1,500 people were injured in the shock wave.

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Last year, ESA started an asteroid defense project named after the Greek goddess Hera. Its purpose is to study how NASA’s probe would affect an asteroid.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210319-99-887947 / 2

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