Washington, September 4: Massive asteroid flew near Earth. Scientists have detected the largest ever recorded asteroid and its moons as it made a near-earth fly-by. Radar images captured the astral body, called Florence, as it passed Earth at a distance of more than 233 million kms.
Florence was first discovered by astronomer Schelete “Bobby’ Bus at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales. It was named after nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. The asteroid, which is almost 4km wide, will not travel near the planet again until 2500.
“While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will all of those were estimated to be smaller,” NASA centre for near-earth object studies Manager Paul Chodas said.
“Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA programme to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began”. The radar images revealed Florence has two moons, which are estimated to be about 100m to 300m in diameter. It is fairly spherical, has a ridge along its equator and at least one large crater. The radar images confirmed the asteroid rotates once every 2.4 hours.