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Out Of Mind » SOLAR & PLANETARY ALERTS & INFO » ATMOSPHERIC CHANGES » NASA Radar Reveals Coming 2 Mile Asteroid Has Its Own Moon

NASA Radar Reveals Coming 2 Mile Asteroid Has Its Own Moon

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NASA Radar Reveals Coming 2 Mile Asteroid Has Its Own Moon

May 30, 2013

— A sequence of radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2 was obtained on the
evening of May 29, 2013, by NASA scientists using the 230-foot
(70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., when the
asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth,
which is 15.6 lunar distances. The radar imagery revealed that 1998 QE2
is a binary asteroid. In the near-Earth population, about 16 percent of
asteroids that are about 655 feet (200 meters) or larger are binary or
triple systems. Radar images suggest that the main body, or primary, is
approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) in diameter and has a rotation
period of less than four hours. Also revealed in the radar imagery of
1998 QE2 are several dark surface features that suggest large
concavities. The preliminary estimate for the size of the asteroid’s
satellite, or moon, is approximately 2,000 feet (600 meters) wide. The
radar collage covers a little bit more than two hours. The radar
observations were led by scientist Marina Brozovic of NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The closest approach of the
asteroid occurs on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. Pacific (4:59 p.m. Eastern /
20:59 UTC), when the asteroid will get no closer than about 3.6 million
miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between
Earth and the moon. This is the closest approach the asteroid will make
to Earth for at least the next two centuries. Asteroid 1998 QE2 was
discovered on Aug. 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program near
Socorro, N.M. More

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