NASA releases radar movie of asteroid 2005 YU55

Nov 09, 2011
This radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 was obtained on Nov. 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. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists working with the 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., have generated a short movie clip of asteroid 2005 YU55. The images were generated from data collected at Goldstone on Nov. 7, 2011, between 11:24 a.m. and 1:35 p.m. PST (2:24 p.m. and 4:35 p.m. EST). They are the highest-resolution images ever generated by radar of a near-Earth object.

Each of the six frames required 20 minutes of data collection by the Goldstone radar. At the time, 2005 YU55 was approximately 860,000 miles (1.38 million kilometers) away from . Resolution is 4 meters per pixel.
"The movie shows the small subset of images obtained at Goldstone on November 7 that have finished processing. By animating a sequence of , we can see more surface detail than is visible otherwise," said radar Lance Benner, the principal investigator for the 2005 YU55 observations, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The animation reveals a number of puzzling structures on the surface that we don't yet understand.  To date, we've seen less than one half of the surface, so we expect more surprises."

The trajectory of asteroid 2005 YU55 is well understood. At the point of closest approach today at 3:28 p.m. PST (6:28 p.m. EST/2328 UTC), it was no closer than 201,700 miles (324,600 kilometers), as measured from the center of Earth. The gravitational influence of the asteroid will have no detectable effect on anything here on Earth, including our planet's tides or tectonic plates. Although 2005 YU55 is in an orbit that regularly brings it to the vicinity of Earth (and Venus and Mars), the 2011 encounter with Earth is the closest this space rock has come for at least the last 200 years.  

The last time a space rock as big 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 large will be in 2028.

detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them, and plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

Explore further: Cassini: Return to Rhea

Related Stories

NASA in final preparations for Nov. 8 asteroid flyby

Oct 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA scientists will be tracking asteroid 2005 YU55 with antennas of the agency's Deep Space Network at Goldstone, Calif., as the space rock safely flies past Earth slightly closer than the ...

Spacecraft Earth to perform asteroid 'flyby' this fall

May 03, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Since the dawn of the space age, humanity has sent 16 robotic emissaries to fly by some of the solar system's most intriguing and nomadic occupants -- comets and asteroids. The data and imagery ...

Radar Clicks Asteroid's Pic

Apr 30, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Near-Earth asteroid 2005 YU55 was "imaged" by the Arecibo Radar Telescope in Puerto Rico on April 19. Data collected during Arecibo's observation of 2005 YU55 allowed the Near-Earth Object ...

Large asteroid nears Earth for rare flyby

Nov 08, 2011

A big asteroid is set to make its closest flyby of Earth in 200 years on Tuesday, but there is no chance of a crash landing when it zips past our planet, NASA said.

Recommended for you

Cassini: Return to Rhea

12 hours ago

After a couple of years in high-inclination orbits that limited its ability to encounter Saturn's moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned to Saturn's equatorial plane in March 2015.

Comet dust—planet Mercury's 'invisible paint'

19 hours ago

A team of scientists has a new explanation for the planet Mercury's dark, barely reflective surface. In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that a steady dusting of carbon from p ...

It's 'full spin ahead' for NASA soil moisture mapper

22 hours ago

The 20-foot (6-meter) "golden lasso" reflector antenna atop NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory is now ready to wrangle up high-resolution global soil moisture data, following the successful ...

What drives the solar cycle?

22 hours ago

You can be thankful that we bask in the glow of a relatively placid star. Currently about halfway along its 10 billion year career on the Main Sequence, our sun fuses hydrogen into helium in a battle against ...

MESSENGER completes 4,000th orbit of Mercury

22 hours ago

On March 25, the MESSENGER spacecraft completed its 4,000th orbit of Mercury, and the lowest point in its orbit continues to move closer to the planet than ever before. The orbital phase of the MESSENGER ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
1 / 5 (4) Nov 09, 2011
The trajectory of asteroid 2005 YU55 is well understood.


Yes, but there are a remarkably large number of coincidences:

www.physorg.com/n...obe.html

www.msnbc.msn.com...deck/msn

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Nov 09, 2011
What in carnation does a technical fault in the navigation system of the Phobos-Grunt mission have to do with the flyby of an asteroid?
Especially since the former is 300km from Earth while the latter is 200000km from Earth.

You might as well argue that the reason you got a red traffic light this morning was due to the passing of the asteroid. Totally ludicrous.
Gawad
5 / 5 (1) Nov 09, 2011
What in carnation does a technical fault in the navigation system of the Phobos-Grunt mission have to do with the flyby of an asteroid?
Especially since the former is 300km from Earth while the latter is 200000km from Earth.

You might as well argue that the reason you got a red traffic light this morning was due to the passing of the asteroid. Totally ludicrous.

What else would you expect, Anti? It's Oh ma' tumour, Oh ma' tumour, Oh ma' tumour fried ma' brain!

It's just having another psychotic episode.
Jonseer
1 / 5 (1) Nov 09, 2011
Odd that they bothered to mention the asteroid would have no effect on Earth, but did not even discuss how much the gravity of Earth and the moon will alter its orbit.
Mahal_Kita
3 / 5 (2) Nov 10, 2011
Odd that they bothered to mention the asteroid would have no effect on Earth, but did not even discuss how much the gravity of Earth and the moon will alter its orbit.


The effects of Lunar and Earth gravity are included in the calculations made predicting the trajectory of 2005 YU55 for the next 100 years or so. Don't panic! ;-)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.