Asteroid 1998 QE2: Asteroid with Own Moon Approaches Earth; 10 Things to Know About this Rare Cosmic Event

By @Len_IBTimes on

Asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon by this time have made its closest approach to Earth. This very rare astronomical event developed Friday through Saturday. NASA scientists have just discovered days ago that this asteroid happens to have its own moon. Here are 10 things to know about this latest space activity to amaze Earth dwellers.

Asteroid 1998 QE2 And Its Moon Approach Earth; 10 Things to Know

10. QE2's orbit extends to as far as Jupiter.

9. NASA is tracking 95 per cent of the large asteroids with orbits that are deemed relatively close to Earth.

8. The Italy-based Virtual Telescope Project caught this view of 1998 QE2 on May 30, 2013. (Photo via Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project.)

The
The Italy-based Virtual Telescope Project caught this view of 1998 QE2 on May 30, 2013. (Photo via Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project.)

7. Radar images of the approaching asteroid were captured Wednesday (May 29) using the Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California.

6. NASA reported Asteroid 1998 QE2 is about the same size as 9 ocean liners. This is roughly 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometres) across. Its moon, or the satellite that orbits it, is estimated to be 2,000 feet (600 metres) wide.

5. There was no reason to fret, however. Asteroid 1998 QE2 posed no threat of slamming against Earth during the flyby, NASA assured the public.

4. The closest approach of 1998 QE2 has been pegged at 4:59 EDT on Friday (May 31). For those in different time zones, 4:59 p.m. Eastern is 20:59 UTC. In Sydney, this time is 06:59 AEST.

3. The asteroid stays far enough, too. It was expected to pass at least 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers) away from the planet. The asteroid is 15 times farther to Earth dwellers than Earth's moon.

2. The rarity of this event is considered by scientists as a way to learn more about the vast universe. "We find something neat about every one that comes in like this," Tim Spahr of the Minor Planet Center at Harvard University, told the media. "They're all different, and it's very cool what you can learn from close approaches."

1. The Asteroid 1998 QE2 2013 flyby is the closest the asteroid (and its moon) will come to Earth for at least the next 200 years.

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