Based on the recent reports published by the space administration, NASA has photographed the “Peanut of the Universe”, an interesting asteroid that flew by Earth this weekend. The next time the celestial body 1999 JD6 will come as close to the Earth will be in 2054, scientists have concluded.
Experts at NASA have stated that the asteroid is a binary star because the recent pictures have revealed that it is formed from two distinct parts. This finding was made possible because the asteroid was very close to the Earth on July 25th.
According to NASA’s estimates, 1999 JD6 was located at 7.2 million km from Earth when it was observed this weekend. The relatively small distance (19 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon) has enabled scientists to notice other particularities in relation to the structure and the space trajectory of the asteroid.
By comparing these new photos with the ones that have been previously taken, Lance Benner from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was able to conclude that the 15 percent of the binary asteroids that pass so close to the Earth are peanut-shaped and slightly elongated. In addition, they all appear to be 600 feet large, based on the calculations that researchers have made.
The images have been captures with a special antenna called the Deep Space Network Antenna because it does just that: it captures pictures of faraway objects in space from its location in Goldstone, California. These images have been coupled and compared to the ones of the Green bank Telescope from West Virginia, scientists have further revealed.
Humanity has been fortunate, so far as Earth has only been approached by small asteroids. Pictures have revealed that the peanut-shaped asteroid was only 2km wide, but future space rocks could be much bigger and much more dangerous for the Earth.
For that matter, researchers are working to develop highly accurate means of investigation that could better track and identify asteroids threatening to hit the surface of the Earth.
The “Peanut of the Universe” will be analyzed in the following period with the help of an infrared radar because scientists want to learn more about its size and structures.
Image source: spacetelescope.org