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Out Of Mind » SOLAR & PLANETARY ALERTS & INFO » ATMOSPHERIC CHANGES » Dark, massive asteroid to fly by Earth on May 31

Dark, massive asteroid to fly by Earth on May 31

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Dark, massive asteroid to fly by Earth on May 31

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Posted on May 18, 2013 by The Extinction Protocol

May 18, 2013SPACEIt’s
1.7 miles long. Its surface is covered in a sticky black substance
similar to the gunk at the bottom of a barbecue. If it impacted Earth,
it would probably result in global extinction. Good thing it is just
making a flyby. Asteroid 1998 QE2 will make its closest pass to Earth on
May 31 at 1:59 p.m. PDT. Scientists are not sure where this unusually
large space rock, which was discovered 15 years ago, originated from.
But the mysterious sooty substance on its surface could indicate it may
be the result of a comet that flew too close to the sun, said Amy
Mainzer, who tracks near-Earth objects at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
La Cañada Flintridge. It might also have leaked out of the asteroid belt
between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, she said. We will know more
after the asteroid zips closer to Earth and scientists using the Deep
Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif., and the Arecibo Observatory
in Puerto Rico can get a better look at it. Astronomers at both
observatories plan to track it closely from May 30 to June 9, according
to a JPL release. At its closest approach the asteroid will still be 3.6
million miles from our planet (about 15 times the distance between the
Earth and the moon), but it will be close enough for these powerful
radar antennas to see features as small as 12 feet across. “With radar
we can transform an object from a point of light into a small world with
its own characteristics,” Lance Benner, JPL’s principal investigator
for Goldstone radar observations, said in a statement. There is no
chance that asteroid 1998 QE2 could collide with Earth this go-around,
and its next close approach won’t be until 2119. Still, Mainzer said the
size of the asteroid, and its potential for mass destruction, should
remind us that there are some scary things flying around in space. –LA Times

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