Asteroid Florence to pass safely by Earth on 1 September

19 August, 2017, 15:52 | Author: Oscar Goodwin
  • Image NASA  JPL-Caltech

"Florence is the largest asteroid that will pass close to our planet in the entire history of observations", said the Manager of the research center of near-earth objects. Measurements from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Near-Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission indicate it is about 4.4 kilometers in size.

That asteroid, called 2012 TC4, and Florence will give NASA and the ESA good opportunities to study near-Earth items and improve tracking networks, better preparing us in the event of potential collision threats in the future.

Within Earth's orbit, there are literally thousands of what are known as Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), more than fourteen thousands of which are asteroids that periodically pass close to Earth.

It means NASA won't have to employ its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) concept craft.

An asteroid that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico 66 million years ago is believed to be responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs.

The 2017 encounter is the closest by this asteroid since 1890 and the closest it will ever be until after 2500.

"Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA programme to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began", Mr Chodas said.

Asteroid Florence, which is one of the largest near-Earth asteroids, will pass safely by Earth on 1 September 2017 at a distance of seven million kilometres.

The U.S. space agency has radar imaging planned for its Goldstone system in California, and at the National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. These studies are expected to yield more accurate data on its size, and reveal surface details at resolutions of up to 10 m (30 feet). It is named in honour of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

The asteroid was discovered by Schelte Bus at an observatory in Australia in March 1981. Between now and then, it also flew by Earth on August 29th, 1930, passing Earth at a distance of about 7.8 million km (4.87 million mi).

That's 18 times the distance from the Earth to the moon. But with a small telescope, stargazers can catch Florence several nights between late August and early September, near the Capricornus and Aquarius constellations, according to JPL.

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