Monday 21 March 2022

Asteroid 2022 FA passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2022 FA passed by the Earth at velocity of 10.16 km per second and a distance of about 188 500 km (0.49 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 0.13% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly after 1.50 am GMT on Tuesday 15 March 2022. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though were it to do so it would not have presented a significant threat. 2022 FA has an estimated equivalent diameter of 7-23 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 7-23 m in diameter), and an object of this size would be expected to explode in an airburst (an explosion caused by superheating from friction with the Earth's atmosphere, which is greater than that caused by simply falling, due to the orbital momentum of the asteroid) between 37 and 20 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.

The relative positions of 2022 FA and the Earth on at 2.00 am on 15 March 2022. JPL Small Body Database.

2022 FA was discovered on 16 March 2022 (the day after its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, which is located in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2022 FA implies that it was the first asteroid (object A - in numbering asteroids the letters A-Y, excluding I, are assigned numbers from 1 to 25, with a number added to the end each time the alphabet is ended so that A = 1, A1 = 26, A2 = 51, etc.) discovered in the second half of March 2022 (period 2022 F - the year being split into 24 half-months represented by the letters A-Y, with I being excluded).

The orbit and current position of 2022 FA. The Sky Live 3D Solar System Simulator.

2022 FA has a 1024 day (2.80 year) orbital period, with an elliptical orbit tilted at an angle of 3.99° to the plain of the Solar System which takes in to 0.92 AU from the Sun (92% of the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) and out to 3.06 AU (306% of the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, and more than twice the distance at which the planet Mars orbits the Sun). It is therefore classed as an Apollo Group Asteroid (an asteroid that is on average further from the Sun than the Earth, but which does get closer). This means that Asteroid 2022 FA has occasional close encounters with the Earth, with  the next predicted for January 2060.

See also...

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Twitter