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Largest asteroid of 2021 to make closest approach to Earth

   March 20, 2021 2:18 AM
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Space
 
The largest asteroid to sweep past Earth this year will make its closest approach on Sunday.

But scientists have told people not to panic as it poses no threat to the planet.

The giant space rock that researchers call 2001 FO32 has a diameter of several hundred metres and will approach Earth at a distance of about two million kilometres (1.2 million miles), US space agency NASA said.

That distance is more than five times as far as the Earth to the moon.

"It's stable, it's not on a risky course," Detlef Koschny, an asteroid expert at the European Space Agency, told dpa news agency, adding that the celestial object will be available for viewing by amateur astronomers with the proper equipment.

"We know the orbital path of 2001 FO32 around the sun very accurately, since it was discovered 20 years ago and has been tracked ever since," said Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies, which is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in southern California.

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