Asteroid 2001 FO32 is the biggest known asteroid to sweep past Earth in 2021.
It was discovered on March 23, 2001, by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research project, near Socorro, New Mexico.
Asteroid 2001 FO32 is estimated to be about .6 miles in diameter.
Although there’s no risk of impact, the space rock is of interest also because it’s one of the fastest space rocks known to fly by Earth. It’s traveling at about 76,980 miles per hour or 21 miles per second, relative to Earth.
In contrast, Earth travels around the sun at about 18 miles per second. Since 2001 FO32 is good-sized and occasionally passes near Earth, it’s been classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid.
After it passes by Earth in March 2021, the next encounter of this asteroid with our planet occurs in 31 years, on March 22, 2052.
With an observation arc of 20 years, 2001 FO32 has a well-determined orbit, and its trajectory is well known through the year 2196. The asteroid’s orbit is only potentially hazardous on a time scale of thousands of years.
It will fly by at such a fast pace that, when it’s closest, observers using telescopes might be able to detect its motion – its drift in front of the stars – in real time.
Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of TNC Network.