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Current Affairs

2001 FO32

Date: 15 March 2021 Tags: Space


The largest asteroid called 2001 FO32 will pass by Earth at the nearest in 2021. It will not pose any threat for safety of the Earth.



The asteroid provides a valuable opportunity for astronomers to get a good look at the rocky structure that was formed at the beginning of the solar system.



  • Scientists have studied its orbital path around the Sun very accurately, since it was discovered 20 years ago and has been tracked in detail.

  • The asteroid will pass from a distance of 2 million km from Earth but the distance is considered near in astronomical terms.

  • The 2001 FO32 will pass at a speed of 124,000 kph which is faster than the speed at which most of the asteroids encounter Earth. 

  • The reason for the asteroid’s fast approach is its highly eccentric orbit around the Sun, which is tilted 39° to Earth’s orbital plane.

  • The tilted orbit of the asteroid takes it closer towards the Sun than Mercury, and twice as the distance from the Sun as Mars.

  • The 2001 FO32 will increase its speed as it makes its inner solar system journey. It completes one orbit of Sun every 810 days (about 2¼ years).

  • After its nearness later in the year, 2001 FO32 will not be coming closer to Earth again until 2052. In 2052, it will pass by at about seven lunar distances.

  • 2001 FO32 will be the biggest asteroid to pass near the earth in 2021. The last such large asteroid coming close was 1998 OR2 on April 29, 2020. 



  • The rendezvous will provide an opportunity for researchers to get a more accurate understanding of the asteroid’s size and albedo.

  • Studying the light features reflecting from the surface of asteroid will allow astronomers to measure the chemical components of the minerals present on the surface of the asteroid.

  • More than 95% of Earth-size asteroids have been discovered, studied and tracked. None of the asteroids have a chance of hitting the Earth in the next century.