Large Asteroid with Own Moon Will Pass Close to Earth Today
A large asteroid is going to fly close to our planet today. At about 1.7 miles in diameter, the asteroid is so large that it has its own moon.
Named Asteroid 1998 QE2, the space object is far bigger than the small asteroid that wreaked havoc in Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15, injuring more than 1,500 people.
On the same day, another asteroid, about 150 feet in diameter, was 17,200 miles from Earth at its closest. This is closer than the communication satellites.
Fortunately, Asteroid 1998 will be about 3.6 million miles from Earth, which is about 15 times farther away than our moon. But Paul Chodas, a scientist with NASA's Near Earth Object program, says it is a "close shave." It is set to pass Earth at 4:59 p.m. EDT.
NASA tracks 95 percent of the large asteroids with orbits coming close to Earth. Russia, Europe, America and other countries are planning to increase asteroid detection efforts to find smaller objects that could still do damage to populated areas.
Scientists just recently discovered that Asteroid 1998 had a moon.
"It was quite a surprise," Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said.
Once the asteroid passes the sun, it will head back toward the asteroid belt. Its orbit extends nearly to Jupiter.
This is the closest it will get for at least the next 200 years.