Published:August 21, 2017 10:39 am
A large near-Earth asteroid, at a distance of about 4.4 million miles, (7.0 million kilometers) is all set to safely pass by our planet on September 1. Called Florence, this is among the largest near-Earth asteroids to come this close since NASA set up its detection and tracking program.
Measurements from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Near-Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission indicate that Asteroid Florence is about 4.4 kilometers in size.
This encounter will prove the scientists an opportunity to closely study the asteroid and know more about it. According to NASA, Florence is expected to be an excellent target for ground-based radar observations. This in-turn would help in revealing the real size of Florence and could also provide insights on surface details as small as about 10 meters.
“While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). “Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began,” he added.
Florence had earlier appeared close to earth in 1890. And according to NASA, it won’t come this close again before 2500. In-fact the asteroid will be visible to small telescopes in late August and early September when it begins to brighten to the ninth magnitude and continues to move through the constellations Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Delphinus.
Discovered by Schelte Bus, in 1981 at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia, this asteroid is named in honor of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the founder of modern nursing.
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