May 30, 2013

Approaching 2.7 km wide asteroid 1998 QE2 has its own 600 meters wide Moon - May 30, 2013

Approaching asteroid 1998 QE2 has a moon.

Researchers found it in a sequence of radar images obtained by the 70-meter Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., on the evening of May 29th (May 30th Universal Time) when the asteroid was about 6 million kilometers from Earth.


First radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2 were obtained when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth. The radar collage covers a little bit more than two hours. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR.

These findings show that 1998 QE2 is a binary asteroid. In the near-Earth population, about 16 percent of asteroids that are about 200 meters or larger are binary or triple systems Also revealed in the radar imagery of 1998 QE2 are several dark surface features that suggest large concavities.

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 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. Via sciencenasa.gov


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