It is undeniable: 2020 is a difficult year. Despite some hope, the start of 2021 is not good. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic, the government is more focused on suppressing activists rather than solving the climate crisis they are protesting, and-according to NASA-potentially dangerous asteroids will pass through the world at close range.
Specifically, the asteroid 2001 FO32 will fly over the Earth on March 21. It travels at a speed of nearly 77,000 miles per hour, with a diameter of about one kilometer, and will be the largest and fastest asteroid to come so close in 2021.
So, is it time to dig underground bunkers, or give up altogether and go on a quarantine spree, because in the face of extinction, who cares about COVID? Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer and professor of astrophysics at Queen̵
He said: “An asteroid hitting 200 to 300 meters may destroy a state or a small country.” “Asteroids one kilometer or larger may have climate effects on a global scale, which may cause serious food Shortage, of course, and destruction close to the point of impact.”
This does not sound completely reassuring, but he added that there is no need to worry about Asteroid 2001 FO32: “The good thing is that, due to the observations of many astronomers, we know that it will not cause us harm for at least the next 200 years.” Although it will take approaching methods at that time (for example, March 22, 2052), these methods actually provide useful opportunities to study large near-Earth asteroids and learn more about them, “we don’t need to worry” .
In fact, for a period of time, we seem to be relatively safe against asteroid threats. According to Fitzsimmons: “NASA-funded searches have now discovered almost all of these larger asteroids and determined that they will not be dangerous for the next few centuries.” He added that now, focus on the smaller ones. Asteroids are important: “Find them and find out where they are.” About every five to ten years, asteroids that have the opportunity to pass through the atmosphere and hit the ground are closer to us than the moon.
We can consider ourselves lucky. Asteroid 2001 FO32 will be unscathed on March 21st, but what if you want to watch it fly in the night sky? Unfortunately-“or luckily!” Fitzsimmons pointed out-you can only see a lot of things with a decent telescope. “According to the closest approach, we are still only 2 million kilometers away, and it will be 100,000 times weaker than the faint star you see.”
Because asteroids move so fast, observers with telescopes may have the opportunity to detect their motion in real time-mapped to distant stars.