Friday, May 31, 2013

Asteroid 1998 QE2 and Moon

Radar data of asteroid 1998 QE2 obtained on May 29, 2013. The small moving white dot is the moon, or satellite, orbiting asteroid 1998 QE2. 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, California, 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, California.

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 August 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program near Socorro, New Mexico.

Video credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR

Note: For more information, see:
* NASA Radar Reveals Asteroid Has Its Own Moon
* Radar Movies Highlight Asteroid 1998 QE2 and Its Moon
* Approaching Asteroid Has Its Own Moon
* Big Asteroid Flyby
* Asteroid Moon Movie.

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