NASA Captures New Images of Large Asteroid Passing Earth


Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif. has captured new radar images of Asteroid 2005 YU55 passing close to Earth.

The asteroid will safely fly past our planet slightly closer than the moon’s orbit on Nov. 8. The last time a space rock this large came as close to Earth was in 1976, although astronomers did not know about the flyby at the time. The next known approach of an asteroid this size will be in 2028.

The image was taken on Nov. 7 at 11:45 a.m. PST (2:45 p.m. EST/1945 UTC), when the asteroid was approximately 860,000 miles (1.38 million kilometers) away from Earth. Tracking of the aircraft carrier-sized asteroid began at Goldstone at 9:30 a.m. PDT on Nov. 4 with the 230-foot-wide (70-meter) antenna and lasted about two hours, with an additional four hours of tracking planned each day from Nov. 6 – 10.

Radar observations from the Arecibo Planetary Radar Facility in Puerto Rico will begin Nov. 8, the same day the asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth at 3:28 p.m. PST (6:28 p.m. EST/1128 UTC).

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/asteroids/news/yu55-20111107.html

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