Tech & Science

Florence Is the Biggest Asteroid to Fly by Earth in More than a Century

Florence will fly by Earth on September 1st

Today, we will be close to one of the largest asteroids that have ever flown by Earth over the last century. Also, the object will fly quite close to our planet, namely 4.4 million miles. This might sound distressing, but NASA assured us the distance is perfectly safe, and there’s absolutely no reason to worry.

Florence is quite a massive object

The asteroid in question was observed for the first time in 1981. Scientists have called it Florence, after the popular founder of modern nursing from the 19th century, Florence Nightingale. The object is massive, namely the biggest asteroid to fly by Earth at such a small distance since more than a century ago, when the first object of the kind was first discovered.

Florence is 2.7 miles wide, making it about the size of 30 pyramids from Egypt clustered together. Over time, Earth has faced many other asteroids which flew by even closer than Florence. However, they were much smaller, so the phenomenon will be quite unique.

This is the perfect chance for a detailed study

This is why scientists don’t want to miss this opportunity. They have prepared their radar imaging equipment from California and Puerto Rico, and are ready to catch images of Florence as it passes. What they should obtain would be images showing the true size of the asteroid, as well as details from its surface.

Florence will reach the closest spot to Earth it has been to since 1890. Also, this will be the closest it will ever be until 2500, so it’s the only chance astronomers have for a detailed analysis. Its size makes everything perfect for its study, and we still don’t need to worry.

Asteroid collisions are rare, and the chances that a really big object should hit Earth are rare. About once a year, an asteroid the size of a car enters our atmosphere, but it usually burns up before it manages to reach the ground.
Image Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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