Get ready to kick off Labor Day weekend for a close encounter when a three-mile wide asteroid named Florence zips by – we hope – on Friday. Florence is almost three miles wide and it will sail past Earth on Friday — the largest object to make a close-encounter, albeit 4.4 million miles away since NASA began tracking the events in the 1990s.
Asteroid 1981 ET3, also known as Florence, will zoom by at a distance which is 18 times the distance between the Earth and Moon.
“While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies.
“Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began.” Any space rock that’s wider than a one-half mile could extinguish life as we know it, scientists have calculated. Luckily NASA does not believe any big rocks are on a collision source with Earth right now.