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NASA had been awaiting the arrival of asteroid Florence whose trajectory was directed towards Earth but not dangerously so. The asteroid flew past Earth at really close proximity of 7 million kilometres, i.e., around 4.4 million miles. Last week this asteroid known to be the biggest in over a century came really close to the Earth surface but NASA scientists were confident thatís its present trajectory wonít poses a threat to Earth.
The exceptional feature that is garnering interest of scientists regarding this asteroid its two tiny moons. NASA derived this detail during an in-depth study of the asteroid when it was closest to the Earthís surface between 31st August and 1st September. JPL-NASAís Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies stated that Florence has been the biggest asteroid ever experienced by Earth at such close encounter, although many smaller asteroids have managed to reach much closer to Earthís orbit, none were as humongous as Florence since the beginning of NASA,s detect and track near-Earth asteroids program.
Florence is around 4.4 kilometres (2.7 miles) wide with two really small moons orbiting the asteroid. The size of both the moons range somewhere between 100-300 metres (300-1000 feet) approximately. The inner moon has an orbital duration of around eight hours and the outer moon has an orbital duration ranging from 22 to 27 hours.
An asteroid with a moon isnít much exceptional scene as from 16,400 known asteroids encountered by earth; more than 60 of those had at least one moon orbiting them. Triple asteroids like Florence consisting of two moons in its orbit are a much rare scene. Florence is the third asteroid with two moons studied by NASA as of now. The other two triple asteroids were Asteroid 1994 CC discovered in 2009 and Asteroid 2001 SN263, discovered in 2008.
But Florence gave scientists a rare opportunity to be studied as it is the closest of the three triple asteroids to pass by the Earthís orbit. †NASA has continued to observe the trajectory of Florence as of now and estimates that it wonít be seen any time before the year 2500. The last close encounter with Florence for Earth was in 1890 and itís been more than a century since its last arrival to earthís proximity.
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