Astronomers have actually caught a picture of a “possibly harmful” asteroid that is set to make a close technique to the Earth this weekend.

The space rock, called (231937) 2001 FO32, will come within around 1.3 million miles of our world– equivalent to roughly five times the average distance in between the Earth and the moon– at 11: 03 a.m. ET on March 21, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Things Research Studies (CNEOS.)

Gianluca Masi, an astronomer from the Virtual Telescope Project (VTP,) caught an image of the asteroid on March 16, utilizing a from another location operated 17- inch telescope named “Elena” in Ceccano, Italy. At the time, the asteroid was located more than 10 million miles away from the Earth.

Recent analysis has revealed that the asteroid– which was found in March 2001 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research Study (LINEAR) program in Socorro, New Mexico– steps in between 1,300 and 2,230 feet, according to NASA.

Even at the tiniest end of its latest size quote, NASA says it is still the largest asteroid to pass so close to Earth in 2021.

The asteroid 2001 FO32
Image caught by the Virtual Telescope Task showing the asteroid 2001 FO32
Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Task

Near-Earth things are classified as potentially harmful if they are estimated to measure more than 460 feet in diameter, while likewise having trajectories that can take them within 4.6 million miles of the Earth’s orbit.

At the time of close method, 2001 FO32 will be travelling at nearly 77,000 miles per hour, which also makes it the fastest asteroid to fly previous Earth this year. The unusually high speed is thanks to the asteroid’s extremely inclined and extended orbit around the sun, which it completes once every 810 days.

” The orbit is more lengthened– greater eccentricity– than most near-Earth objects, but not abnormally so. This gives it a greater speed when travelling through the inner planetary system.” Binzel stated.

The object will not come this close to the Earth again till 2052, when it will pass our planet at a range of around 1.75 million miles.

The upcoming close approach will supply astronomers with a rare and important chance to study the asteroid– a rocky relic that formed in the early days of our solar system.

An asteroid
Stock image: Artist’s illustration of an asteroid. This weekend, the “potentially dangerous” asteroid 2001 FO32 will make a close technique to Earth.
iStock

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