Asteroids and Comets

Massive Asteroid ‘Florence’ To Pass By Earth On September 1

It's no threat to Earth, but a fantastic opportunity for scientists.

‘Florence’ will pass the Earth at a distance of 7 million kilometers ( or 4.4 million miles). Florence is 4.4-kilometer (2.7-miles) Florence is among the largest near-Earth asteroids that are several miles in size.

“Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began.” says Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). “While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller,”

JPL/Caltech




 


Scientists will be given an opportunity to study the asteroid based on it’s proximity. Using ground based radar systems such as NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar in California and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico researchers will provide details of the asteroid up to 30 feet in precision.

We use radar to observe asteroids daily. Deep space radar helps us study the size, shape, and rotation of objects in space by sending signals into space and bouncing them off the target object. This is nearly identical to how submarines and aircraft use radar.

Florence was initially discovered in 1981 and was named in honor of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the founder of modern nursing. This pass in 2017 will be the closest pass the asteroid has had since 1890, and it’s closest until after 2500. Florence will be visible to telescopes at night during the end of August and beginning of September.

Asteroid Florence, a large near-Earth asteroid, will pass safely by Earth on Sept. 1, 2017, at a distance of about 4.4 million miles.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Jamie is an amateur astronomer and every day space geek.