A massive asteroid estimated to be 2.7 miles wide is set to make a ‘relatively close encounter’ with Earth on September 1.
Dubbed ‘Florence,’ the huge space rock will pass just 4.4 million miles from our planet – or, about 18 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
According to NASA, this is the closest an asteroid of this size has come since they first began tracking near-Earth objects, giving scientists an unprecedented opportunity to study it up close through ground-based radar observations.
While it may sound alarming, NASA says asteroid Florence will safely fly past Earth at a distance of about 4.4 million miles (7 million kilometers).
It’s not the closest encounter our planet has seen with an NEO, but for this distance, the experts say it is the largest.
‘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.
‘Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began.’
The asteroid, named for Florence Nightingale, was first spotted in 1981, and the flyby in September will be the closest it’s come to Earth since 1890.