Giant Asteroid Zooms Relatively Close To Earth

Gwen Vasquez
April 20, 2017

"Although there is no possibility for the asteroid to collide with our planet, this will be a very close approach for an asteroid this size", a NASA official from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement.

Astronomers first learned about the asteroid, which is officially known as 2014 JO25, three years ago, when it was observed by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. One can see it for the next consecutive days with the help of small optical telescopes.

NASA has released radar images of the peanut-shaped asteroid which were obtained in the early hours of Tuesday morning by its 70-meter (230-foot) antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California. The asteroid will continue its journey towards the center of the Solar System as it looped around the sun and pass by our planet and Jupiter. Asteroid 2014 JO25 is not unlike frequent, smaller asteroid - it's huge with a reflective surface such as the moon.

That notwithstanding, it means that the earth is still safe, as 4.6 lunar distances translates to about 1.7 million kilometers from earth.

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JO25 is about 2,000 feet wide and will flyby just 1.1 millions away- nearly five times the distance of the moon from Earth. At that time, 1999 AN10 asteroid (800-meter-wide) will cruise by Earth at one lunar distance.

In addition to Slooh, NASA and the National Science Foundation announced their intentions to observe the mysterious asteroid with their radio telescopes. The asteroid was expected to be at its closest point to Earth at 8:24 a.m. EDT.

When the comet was discovered, it was very faint, but its radiance has significantly increased as an outcome of a recent outburst, which made it seeable through small telescopes or binoculars.

NASA expects the half-mile-wide asteroid will be a startling 236,000 miles from Earth in August 2027 - just 2,900 miles south of the moon.

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