The asteroid 2001 FO32 has just grazed our planet, passing about two million kilometers from it. This event occurred this Sunday, March 21 at 5:02 p.m. Paris time. Obviously, there was no risk of collision. While its trajectory was regular and well known, the asteroid had one peculiarity: a greater speed than most other bodies of its type.
An asteroid classified as “potentially dangerous”
It measures less than 1,000 meters in diameter and just passed just two million kilometers from our planet. This is 2001 FO32, an asteroid that has undergone NASA publication on March 12, 2021. More precisely, this large rocky body passed at a distance of 2,016,158 km – approximately five times the Earth-Moon distance – at a distance of speed of 124,000 km / h. However, this speed is greater than that of most known asteroids. It passed at 4:02 p.m. GMT (5:02 p.m. Paris time), of course without any risk of collision with Earth. NASA had also recalled that its trajectory was regular and known (see below), having made it possible to avoid any danger several weeks in advance.
In contrast, 2001 FO32 is classified as “potentially dangerous”. This is also the case for all asteroids having a diameter of more than 140 meters and whose orbit is less than 19.5 times the Earth-Moon distance. The point is that this category of asteroids is a priority for many astronomers. Indeed, it is a question of making an inventory as exhaustive as possible in order to predict the trajectories and assess the potential risks.
Next passage in 2052
First observed twenty years ago – hence its name – 2001 FO32 has always been the subject of increased surveillance. The latter is one of the near-Earth asteroids “Apollo”, these circling the Sun in less than a year and being able to cross the orbit of our planet. NASA has said that it knows very little about 2001 FO32, and added that its passage was going to be a opportunity to learn a lot.
Amateur astronomers have also eagerly awaited the passage of this asteroid in order to observe it. However, only those present in the southern hemisphere (and at low northern latitudes) had this nice opportunity. Moreover, the astronomers in question could only see the body in question with a telescope having at least a diameter of 20 centimeters. A white dot moving like a satellite, this is what people with sufficient equipment could see.
After its brief visit, 2001 FO32 will continue its journey and should come closer to the Earth again in 2052. The latter should this time pass at about seven times the Earth-Moon distance, that is to say nearly 2.8 million kilometers.