AUG 31, 2017 7:53 AM PDT

Large Asteroid Approaches Earth As it Prepares for September 1st Fly-By

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

September 1st is the day that a massive 2.7-mile-wide asteroid dubbed Florence will safely pass the Earth at just 4.4 million miles away. Just in case you were wondering, that's 18x further than the Moon.

An artist's impression of a large asteroid coming close to the Earth.

Image Credit: Marcelo6366/Pixabay

Citing NASA, this is the largest asteroid to pass Earth this closely since astronomers discovered the first Near-Earth Object (NEO) over 100 years ago.

Florence, in particular, hasn’t been this close to our planet since 1890, and it won’t get this close again until after the year 2500.

"While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1st, all of those were estimated to be smaller," said NASA’s Paul Chodas, an expert on NEOs. "Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began."

Related: Asteroid collision: size does matter

Large asteroids of this caliber don’t get this close to our planet very often, so this week’s historic event provides a unique opportunity for both astronomers and backyard observers to study the space rock as it approaches.

Most will use ordinary telescopes to peer at Florence, but some astronomers are going balls to the wall to explore the asteroid with high-resolution radar capable of picking up surface details as small as 30 feet across.

While Florence's surface most likely won’t be too exciting, it can tell us more about its formation and history. We can also use these observations to measure the asteroid more accurately, track its rotation rate, and fine-tune its projected trajectory.

The following computer simulations show just how closely Florence will get to Earth:

It should be interesting to learn what findings we will uncover as the event unfolds.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
How Do Spiders Behave in Zero Gravity?
DEC 29, 2020
How Do Spiders Behave in Zero Gravity?
The International Space Station (ISS) is a treasure trove of scientific intrigue. But it's not just life-saving drug ...
JAN 13, 2021
Space & Astronomy
The Eruption of an "Extra-Galactic Old Faithful"
JAN 13, 2021
The Eruption of an "Extra-Galactic Old Faithful"
We know that geysers like Old Faithful can erupt on a predictable schedule, and now researchers have learned more about ...
FEB 20, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Mars Perseverance Rover Gets Ready to Find Life on Mars
FEB 20, 2021
Mars Perseverance Rover Gets Ready to Find Life on Mars
NASA scientists have confirmed that their car-sized Perseverance Mars rover is 'healthy' following its arrival o ...
MAY 02, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days
MAY 02, 2021
Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days
Although Venus is our planet’s closest neighbour, its fundamental properties have remained largely unknown. Now th ...
MAY 23, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Why Do Some Stars Vanish from Space?
MAY 23, 2021
Why Do Some Stars Vanish from Space?
Current theories suggest that stars undergo changes on timescales of millions or billions of years, and that their end i ...
MAY 24, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Plasma jets observed interacting with magnetic fields in far-off galaxy cluster
MAY 24, 2021
Plasma jets observed interacting with magnetic fields in far-off galaxy cluster
New observations from radio telescopes and supercomputer simulations show plasma jets interacting with magnetic fields i ...
Loading Comments...