QE2 asteroid to fly by Earth from safe distance

May 28, 2013
Asteroid 1998 QE2 will get no closer than about 3.6 million miles at time of closest approach on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. Pacific (4:59 p.m. Eastern). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

An asteroid more than 1½ miles long will zoom past Earth this week from a far-off distance.

The big rock called Asteroid 1998 QE2 will make its closest approach Friday. It will keep a safe distance of 3.6 million miles, or 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon. You won't be able to see it without a powerful .

It's believed to be about 1.7 miles long, or about nine times the length of the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship. But that has nothing to do with its name. The letters and number in the name represent the timing and sequence of the asteroid's in 1998.

Scientists will use large radar telescopes to study its shape, rotation and .

Explore further: Start of dwarf planet mission delayed after small mix-up

More information: NASA: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/asteroids/news/asteroid20130515.html

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