“We know the orbit of” 2001 FO 32 “around the Sun very well, we were discovering it 20 years ago,” said Paul Chodas of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies in California. “There is no way that an asteroid can reach close to two million kilometers from Earth.”
Even amateur astronomers can look at the asteroid with the proper equipment, Koschny announced. There are nothing in the dimension of the two million kilometers of the solar system.
The “2001 FO32”, which orbits the Sun once every 810 days, reportedly passed through the Earth at a speed of about 124,000 kilometers per hour – and would not see it again until after 2052. NASA scientists wanted to take the opportunity during the flyby to examine the asteroid more closely.
The ESA has its own programs for observing objects important to the Earth. “2001 FO32” would be a specific candidate in terms of size to avoid a possible collision with Earth, so that it would distract from his career – if he didn’t fly at a harmless distance. An asteroid of this size could destroy an entire country, Koschi said. For comparison: In 2013, a 20-meter chunk explosion wreaked havoc in the Russian metropolis of Chelyabinsk. The shock injured 1,500 people.
Only last year ESA started an asteroid defense project named after the Greek goddess “Hera”. Its purpose is to test how the impact of the NASA probe on an asteroid.