Large asteroid to safely pass Earth on September 1

While it may sound alarming, NASA says asteroid Florence should safely fly past Earth at a distance of about 4.4 million miles.

"Florence is among the largest near-Earth asteroids that are several miles in size; measurements from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and NEOWISE mission indicate it's about 2.7 miles (4.4 kilometers) in size", NASA states on its website.

Australian scientists first discovered Florence in 1981.

On September 1, an asteroid nearly three miles wide will safely fly by Earth. It will be visible to small telescopes for several nights in late August and early September. Bus named the space boulder after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing and a prolific writer.

"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) at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It will be moving through the Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Delphinus constellations.

According to NASA, the upcoming encounter will be the closest an asteroid of this size ever had with Earth since the agency first began tracking near-Earth objects.

"Florence is expected to be an excellent target for ground-based radar observations". NASA is planning on conducting radar studies of Florence using the Goldstone Solar System Radar in California, and the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Arecibo Observatory in Peurto Rico. Radar systems have been set up to capture new imagery that will reveal its actual size, as well as details of the surface as small as 30 feet.

Most popular: Will Trump Serve Only Four Years Like President Jimmy Carter Did? Also, cataloging the NEOs is important to make sure we can predict if and when the big one will come and send us the way of the dinosaurs. Paul Chodas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory notes that while there have been many asteroids that passed by closer to our planet, none have been this large. While it will pass Earth another seven times over the course of the next 500 years, it will not be as close as it will be this September until after 2500.

  • Joey Payne