Asteroid to fly by Earth safely on January 26

January 14, 2015
This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2004 BL86, which will come no closer than about three times the distance from Earth to the moon on Jan. 26, 2015. Due to its orbit around the sun, the asteroid is currently only visible by astronomers with large telescopes who are located in the southern hemisphere. But by Jan. 26, the space rock's changing position will make it visible to those in the northern hemisphere. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

An asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, will safely pass about three times the distance of Earth to the moon on January 26. From its reflected brightness, astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about a third of a mile (0.5 kilometers) in size. The flyby of 2004 BL86 will be the closest by any known space rock this large until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past Earth in 2027.

At the time of its on January 26, the asteroid will be approximately 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Earth.

"Monday, January 26 will be the closest asteroid 2004 BL86 will get to Earth for at least the next 200 years," said Don Yeomans, who is retiring as manager of NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, after 16 years in the position. "And while it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it's a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more."

One way NASA scientists plan to learn more about 2004 BL86 is to observe it with microwaves. NASA's Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will attempt to acquire science data and radar-generated images of the asteroid during the days surrounding its closest approach to Earth.

"When we get our radar data back the day after the flyby, we will have the first detailed images," said radar astronomer Lance Benner of JPL, the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations of the asteroid. "At present, we know almost nothing about the asteroid, so there are bound to be surprises."

Asteroid 2004 BL86 was initially discovered on Jan. 30, 2004 by a telescope of the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey in White Sands, New Mexico.

The is expected to be observable to amateur astronomers with small telescopes and strong binoculars.

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Credit: NASA

"I may grab my favorite binoculars and give it a shot myself," said Yeomans. "Asteroids are something special. Not only did asteroids provide Earth with the building blocks of life and much of its water, but in the future, they will become valuable resources for mineral ores and other vital natural resources. They will also become the fueling stops for humanity as we continue to explore our solar system. There is something about asteroids that makes me want to look up."

NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office is experiencing its first transition in leadership since it was formed almost 17 years ago. On Jan. 9, after a 39-year-long career at JPL, Yeomans retired. Paul Chodas, a long-time member of Yeomans' team at JPL, has been designated as the new manager.

NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets using both ground- and space-based telescopes. Elements of the Near-Earth Object Program, often referred to as "Spaceguard," discover these objects, characterize a subset of them and identify their close approaches to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

Explore further: NASA says recently spotted asteroid 2014 UR116 no risk for Earth

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Jan 14, 2015
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5 / 5 (6) Jan 14, 2015
Calling 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko an asteroid is as ridiculous as calling the moon a planet. Concerning the measured D/H ratio of this specific comet, it is true that it is far from matching the one of our home planet, confirming old observation that comets were not the source of terrestrial water, but did not exclude at all that some of it came from them. http://www.lesia....ence.pdf http://www.skyand...0920141/ Finally I will add that there is definitely organic compounds on 67P/C-G. As for which ones and how much of it, we will have to wait until ESA release the results.
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 15, 2015

And the latest EU testing at landing on an asteroid has shown that our water did not come from ASTEROIDS.

At least make an EFFORT to hide your blatant ignorance (and bias). And read something other than badly scribbled mythology before your come to a science site with your patently obvious and badly articulated agenda.

And ESA didn't "test at landing" (while we're at it, learn to write grammatically). They did land a probe on a COMET. Plus, if the big ol' scary devil can put fossils on Earth to mess with our heads, he could have done something to the water on that comet, too. Makes sense, right?
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 15, 2015
verkle claimed
Another article appearing today said the opposite of the first phrase. And the latest EU testing at landing on an asteroid has shown that our water did not come from asteroids
Ever heard of a thing called - "balance of probabilities" ?

For anyone to claim something doesnt happen as an absolute & especially so since immense time has passed is naive & immature. Think about it, asteroids have minerals, many are hydrated, to suggest not one H2O molecule made it from a hydrated asteroid mineral to earth is "highly unlikely", do U read verkle ?

Eg. of verkle scraping the barrel looking for ANYTHING to bolster his dogma "god did it".

How does your god communicate verkle, anything at all other than "claim" ?

Havent U noticed verkle, humans are quick to claim & that means everything.

Key factor is objectivity & evidence.

Was Moses objective, did he pass on evidence ?

Are the stories of Jesus objective & with evidence ?

Jesus never wrote anything !

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