Good Morning Britain’s Laura Tobin urged viewers not to worry about an asteroid passing Earth today but pointed out it will be a near-miss.
The meteorologist joined presenters Ben Shephard and Susanna Reid on today’s show where she explained how the asteroid, known as 231937 (2001 FO32), will zoom by our planet but will ‘get close’.
‘You may well hear in the news today that an asteroid is heading towards Earth,’ Laura said.
‘I’m here to say don’t panic. It is not going to hit us, but boy is it going to get close.’
She continued: ‘It will pass between us and the moon. It will be about 167,000 miles, that’s about one-seventh of the distance between us and the moon.’
Laura added: ‘Even if it did enter our atmosphere just a small fragment would land on earth.’
The asteroid is said to be the largest to pass by Earth this year and will come close to our planet before being thrown back out into space, Nasa has said.
While the interplanetary interloper will not come closer than 1.25 million miles from Earth, it will present a scientific opportunity for astronomers.
There is no threat of a collision with our planet now or for centuries to come, Nasa added.
Paul Chodas, director of the Centre for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), which is managed by Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: ‘We know the orbital path of 2001 FO32 around the Sun very accurately, since it was discovered 20 years ago and has been tracked ever since.’
He added: ‘There is no chance the asteroid will get any closer to Earth than 1.25 million miles.’
However, because the distance is close in astronomical terms, the rock has been designated a ‘potentially hazardous asteroid’.
During its approach, 2001 FO32 will pass by at about 77,000mph – faster than the speed at which most asteroids encounter Earth.
The reason for the asteroid’s unusually fast close approach is its highly inclined and elongated (or eccentric) orbit around the Sun – an orbit that is tilted 39 degrees to Earth’s orbital plane.
The asteroid was initially detected way back in 2001 by telescopes in New Mexico that are part of the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.