Asteroid Nine Times Larger Than Cruise Ship to Sail Past Earth
On May 31, 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2 will sail serenely past Earth, getting no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.
Asteroid 1998 QE2 was discovered August 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The asteroid, which is about 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) in size, was named by the NASA-supported Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Radar images from the Goldstone antenna could resolve features on the asteroid as small as 12 feet (3.75 meters) across, even from 4 million miles (6 million km) away.
“It is tremendously exciting to see detailed images of this asteroid for the first time.” Moreover, there are many more people involved in researching and understanding the nature of asteroids and comets, including those that come close to Earth plus those who are trying to find and track them in the first place.
In 2016, NASA will launch a robotic probe to one of the most potentially hazardous of the known NEOs. Aside from monitoring potential threats, the study of asteroids and comets enables a valuable opportunity to learn more about the origins of our solar system, the source of water on Earth, and even the origin of organic molecules that lead to the development of life.
Nasa.gov. N.p., 25 May 2013. Web. 15 May 2013.