Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Latest Posts

NASA’s Radar Reveals Astounding Details of Two Asteroids Near Earth

In a dazzling show of technological might, NASA has debuted new, stunning radar pictures of two near-Earth asteroids that provide unprecedented insights into their physical characteristics and orbital dynamics.

On June 27, asteroid 2011 UL21, also known as 415029, made a close approach to Earth passing at 4.1 million miles (about 17 times the distance to the Moon). This mile-wide asteroid was discovered in 2011 by Tucson’s Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona and turned out to be slightly smaller than initially estimated. The images received were not only capable of discerning the spheroid shape of the asteroid but also revealed another amazing finding: there lies a satellite moving around this celestial rock which is about one kilometer wide.

Speaking about this discovery, Lance Benner who is Senior Research Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said that in such cases it is believed that two-thirds of similar-sized asteroids are binary systems. Knowledge about their relative orbits, masses, and densities can tell how these space rocks formed. According to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), this recent encounter with 2011 UL21 comes among the top ten largest asteroids within 4.6 million miles from Earth in the last 124 years.

Two days later on June 29th NASA’s radar team tracked an additional asteroid called “2024 MK” as it flew past Earth just 184000 miles away or roughly three-quarters of our moon’s distance from us. This elongated figure has been formed by a giant impact during its early history with South Africa’s first detection being reported on June 16 through the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS). Radar images showed prominent flat areas and rounded regions with concave parts, ridges, and boulders up to 30 feet wide.

Benner identified the observation of 2024 MK as a great chance to study any physical properties of a near-Earth asteroid. This is due to the fact that near-Earth objects this size come close only once or twice in some decades, making the data collected very valuable for future analysis.

The Goldstone Solar System Radar Group, which was funded by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program in Planetary Defense Coordination Office, was at the helm of these observations. Contributions from Deep Space Network (DSN) under JPL management enhance continuous monitoring and exploration of nearby celestial bodies towards better understanding and preparedness against possible threats.

For more information about planetary radar and near-Earth objects see NASA’s Asteroid Watch website.

In our attempts to comprehend our cosmic neighborhood that keeps expanding, these radar observations, therefore, constitute an important step forward in giving us a clearer picture of those heavenly bodies occasionally wandering closely around our world.

More for you:

Latest Posts

Don't Miss