Big Asteroid to Pass Near to Earth in November – A large space rock will pass close to Earth on November 8, 2011 and astronomers are anticipating the chance to see asteroid 2005 YU55 close up. Just like meteorites offer a free “sample return” mission from space, this close flyby is akin to sending a spacecraft to fly by an asteroid — just like how the Rosetta mission recently flew by asteroid Lutetia — but this time, no rocket is required. Astronomers are making sure Spaceship Earth will have all available resources trained on 2005 YU55 as it makes its closest approach, and this might be a chance for you to see the asteroid for yourself, as well.
“While near-Earth objects of this size have flown within a lunar distance in the past, we did not have the foreknowledge and technology to take advantage of the opportunity,” said Barbara Wilson, a scientist at JPL. “When it flies past, it should be a great opportunity for science instruments on the ground to get a good look.”
Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at JPL said, “there is no threat when YU55 collision over the Earth.”
“During its closest approach, its gravitational effect on the Earth will be so minuscule as to be immeasurable. It will not affect the tides or anything else” he said.
When the asteroid was about 1.5-million miles (2.3-million km) from Earth the ‘National Science Foundation’s Arecibo Observatory’ in Puerto Rico have generated some images of 2005 YU55 using the radar sometime in April 2010. This round space rock has been in astronomers’ cross hairs before.
Those images had a resolution of about 25-feet (7.5-meters) per pixel. This November close pass would provide clearer and sharper image resolution. We intend to image it at 4-meter resolution (13 feet) with our recently upgraded equipment. Plus the asteroid will be seven times closer. We’re expecting some very detailed radar images,” said JPL radar astronomer Lance Benner.
Big Asteroid to Pass Near to Earth in November