Images of near-Earth asteroid captured

Nov. 5, 2012 at 8:24 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Scientists using a giant NASA radio telescope have obtained radar images of a mile-wide asteroid that made its closest approach to Earth Monday morning.

The images of near-Earth asteroid 2007 PA8 were made with the 230-foot-wide Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported.

The images reveal the space rock as an elongated, irregularly shaped object with ridges and perhaps craters that rotates very slowly, roughly once every three to four days.

At its closest approach the asteroid was about 4 million miles from Earth, or 17 times the distance between Earth and the moon.

This flyby was the closest Earth approach this asteroid will make for at least the next 200 years, NASA said, and its trajectory is well understood.

NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program scans for objects like 2007 PA8 and plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

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