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Large asteroid completes Earth flyby
by Staff Writers
Pasadena, Calif. (UPI) Jun 1, 2013

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

A 1.7-mile-wide asteroid whose moon alone had the potential to cripple life on Earth passed safely by under the close watch of scientists, NASA said.

The massive rock, known as 1998 QE2, came within 3.6 million miles of smashing into Earth before continuing into deep space, CNN reported.

The asteroid has its own satellite that is about 2,000 feet across.

Astronomers never feared a strike from the pair, but were excited about the chance to get "the best look at this asteroid ever," NASA said.

The ability to track and photograph the asteroid was considered a success for the agency's Near Earth Object Project, which surveys the outreaches of space for objects with the potential for striking the Earth.

QE2's moon alone is considered a "potential city killer," said Paul Chodas, a scientist with the project. Scientists projected it would have caused a global catastrophe if it collided with the planet.

Astronomer Lance Benner, principal investigator for the Goldstone observatory in California, said high-resolution radar images of the asteroid produced by Goldstone and the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico "could reveal a wealth of surface features," NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement.

The radar at Goldstone is capable of discerning features as small as 12 feet across.

Both observatories continue to track QE2 as it moves away from the Earth.

The asteroid is expected to pass Earth again on July 12, 2028, but at a distance of about 45 million miles.


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NASA Radar Reveals Asteroid Has Its Own Moon
Pasadena CA (JPL) May 31, 2013
A sequence of radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2 was obtained on the evening of May 29, 2013, by NASA scientists using the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth, which is 15.6 lunar distances. The radar imagery revealed that 1998 QE2 is a binary asteroid. In the near-Earth populat ... read more

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