Once in a while, the Universe reminds us all how fragile our planet really is in this apparently endless amount of space that we live in. Earth’s protective shield, the presence of Jupiter, and other factors are contributing to creating safe conditions for us.
NewsWeek.com writes about a potentially hazardous asteroid that will approach our planet in 2021. There are many “near-Earth objects,” or NEOs, orbiting the Sun within our cosmic neighborhood, but at least one of them could pose a threat.
Should we get ready for 2001 FO32?
2001 FO32 is the potentially hazardous asteroid in question, meaning that it measures over 460 feet in diameter, and it has an orbit that approaches Earth’s path around the Sun to less than 4.6 million miles. More precisely, 2001 FO32 is even more imposing, as it measures between 2,526 feet and 5,577 feet (1.05 miles) in diameter. The asteroid will make its close approach to Earth on March 21 at 11:03 a.m. ET, when it will come within 1.3 million miles of our planet.
Paul Chodas, the CNEOS director, declared for Newsweek that space objects fall into the ‘potentially hazardous’ category due to their orbits that “come close enough to Earth’s that it is possible over many centuries and millennia they might evolve into Earth-crossing orbits. So it is prudent to keep tracking these asteroids for decades to come and to study how their orbits might be evolving.”
NASA scans the sky very often with a series of asteroid search programs, and over 95 percent of the large asteroids had been identified, meaning space rocks that measure at least 1 kilometer in diameter. Chodas reveals that none of them has the chance of hitting our planet over the next century.
Therefore, if the world will somehow end in 2021, we’ll most probably have to bet on something else to get the job done rather than the 2001 FO32 asteroid.