Science

NASA watching asteroid MILE-wide skim past Earth tomorrow

NASA watching asteroid MILE-wide skim past Earth tomorrow”

According to EarthSky, 1999 KW4 is the largest space rock that will come this close to our planet until June 2027, when asteroid 4953 (1990 MU)-which is estimated to measure at least 2.5 miles in diameter-will sail past the Earth.

The California-based Las Cumbres Observatory describes the larger object as having a complex shape resembling a walnut or spinning top.

The so-called binary asteroid, known as 1999 KW4, will make its closest approach at 7:05 p.m. ET on May 25, NBC News reported, when it will be roughly 3.2 million miles from Earth-a safe distance but relatively paltry in space terms.

Asteroid 1999 KW4 was discovered on May 20, 1999 by the LINEAR collaboration using the Goldstone and Arecibo observatories. That this results in a mountain ridge that runs the entire length of the equator is a neat fact that can be appreciated knowing that we won't have to see it from up close.

NASA ambassador Eddie Irizarry of the Astronomical Society of the Caribbean confirmed the asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye, but encourages amateur astronomers to try to spot it as it passes Earth.

The asteroid, known as 1999 KW4, will make its closest approach to our planet on Saturday, but it's important to note that that distance means something different to space folks, who work on a galactic scale.

The two space rocks are traveling at a speed of about 48,000 miles per hour.

It will look like a slow-moving star.

The European Space Agency (ESA) on May 14 shared an image of the 1999 KW4, "observed from the ground for the first time in the current apparition, emerging from solar conjunction", it published on its official website.

On May 25, it will collaborate with IAWN to "to collect as many observations as possible, with as many observing techniques and wavelengths as possible", ESA said. In fact, the object will be closely watched during its latest close approach by scientists at various observatories as part of an global effort to protect Earth from future catastrophic asteroid strikes.



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