In case you missed it, asteroid ‘3122 Florence’ – the largest to come this close to our planet in over a century – flew past us and we learned much about it.
On Friday, the asteroid 3122 Florence came some 7 million kilometers close of Earth and revealed to two tiny moons we did not know about previously.
Measuring some 4.5 kilometers across, the 3122 Florence came as close to us as an equivalent of 18 times the distance between us and the moon.
“Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began,” Paul Chodas, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, commented.
— The Life Pile (@thelifepile) August 4, 2017
Radar images taken by NASA’s Goldstone Solar System center in California provided us with the first-up close views of Florence, which was named after 19th-century English nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale.
The asteroid has been described as pretty round and rigid around its equator by the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). It was also described as having a large crater and two large flat regions.
3122 Florence is believed to complete a full rotation every two and a half hours.
The same radar captures have revealed that two small moons are accompanying the asteroid. Still to be confirmed, their measurements are estimated at 100 to 300 meters across, and it takes the inner moon around 8 hours to complete an orbit around Florence and the outer moon 72 hours.