Aug. 22 (UPI) — The largest asteroid ever tracked by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will pass by Earth just 11 days after the Great American Solar Eclipse.
Asteroid Florence, named after nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, will pass by Earth on Sept. 1 at a safe distance of 4.4 million miles, roughly 18 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.
Florence is 2.7 miles wide, making it the largest asteroid ever tracked by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on Sept.1, all of those were estimated to be smaller,” Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told al.com.
“Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began.”
Asteroid Florence was discovered in 1981 by Schelte “Bobby” Bus at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia.
The asteroid’s size and proximity will provide a optimal target for scientists to study an asteroid up close. NASA will be using its Goldstone Solar System Radar in California and the National Science Foundation’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico to study the asteroid.