Asteroid Florence, a large asteroid near the Earth, is set to safely fly by the Earth on Friday, at a distance of around 7 million kilometers, NASA has reported.
Officially designated 3122 Florence, the natural remnant of the formation of the solar system is the largest asteroid to pass so close to our planet since NASA started tracking near-Earth asteroids.
Measurements from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and NEOWISE mission indicate that Florence is around 4.4 kilometers across.
“While many known asteroids have passed by closer to the 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 (JPL).
The 2017 encounter will be Florence’s closest pass since 1890 and her last until at least 2500.
The fly-by will provide an opportunity for scientists to study the asteroid in greater detail and it is expected to be an excellent target for ground-based radar observations, NASA said.
Florence was discovered by American astronomer Schelte “Bobby” Bus at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia in March 1981.
It is named in honor of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.