This radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 was obtained NASA's Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California on November 7, 2011, at 11:45 a.m. PST (2:45 p.m. EST/1945 UTC), when the space rock was at 3.6 lunar distances, which is about 860,000 miles, or 1.38 million kilometers, from Earth.
The asteroid safely will safely fly past our planet slightly closer than the moon's orbit on November 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 November 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 November 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 November 6 - 10.
NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes some of them, and plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet. JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech