(CBS) – An asteroid similar in size to the Golden Gate Bridge will whip past Earth later this month — the largest and fastest asteroid to pass close to our planet this year.

But don’t worry, it won’t get too close. The asteroid, officially known by NASA as 231937 (2001 FO32), is about 1,300 to 2,230 feet wide, according to observations made by the NEOWISE team, putting it at the smaller end of the scale. It has an orbit period of 810 days.

The asteroid is smaller than the last notable one to make a close approach to Earth, but it will be three times closer, NASA said in a statement Thursday. 2001 FO32 is set to come within 1.25 million miles of Earth at 11:02 a.m. ET on March 21, just one day after the spring equinox.


That’s close enough for NASA to classify it as “potentially hazardous” in its database of near-Earth asteroids, a designation given when they come within about 4.65 million miles of Earth and are larger than 500 feet in diameter. It will zoom past at almost 77,000 miles per hour, or 21 miles per second —

peaking scientists’ interests as one of the fastest space rocks known to fly past Earth. The asteroid is “unusually speedy” due to its highly inclined and elongated orbit around the sun, which takes it closer to the sun than Mercury and twice as far from the sun as Mars. READ MORE


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