Monday, December 17, 2012

This is the big asteroid that passed by the Earth last week

This monster is Toutatis. Toutatis is 4.8 km long and came within 4.3 million miles of the Earth. That might sound far but considering thats 18 times the distance that the Moon is from the Earth, that`s close, celestially speaking. During it`s flyby NASA trained their Deep Space Network antenna at it and captured these radar images.
From NASA:

"This 64-frame movie of asteroid Toutatis was generated from data by Goldstone's Solar System Radar on Dec. 12 and 13, 2012.

NASA 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.

JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena."

close, but it was never expected to be a threat

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