Six radar measurements of a planet-passing asteroid have shown an abnormally elongated space rock. The object is three times as long as it is broad, which is an unusual form among asteroids.
The asteroid, designated 2011 AG5, is about the size and form of the Empire State Building, except the 222-foot antenna. The closest approach of the asteroid to Earth occurred on February 3, when it approached within 1.1 million miles of our globe.
About 1,600 feet long and 500 feet broad, it was spotted between January 29 and February 4 by the Goldstone Solar System Radar at a Deep Space Network site.
The team who discovered and measured the asteroid determined that it is quite lengthy. "This is one of the longest near-Earth objects seen by planetary radar to date," .
The researchers also discovered that 2011 AG5's rotation rate is quite sluggish, taking nine hours to complete one revolution. The next flyby of Earth by the asteroid will not occur until 2040, when it will pass at a distance of around 670,000 miles.
NASA maintains a vigilant eye on the frequent occurrences of objects that pass close to Earth. It was one of the closest reported flybys of a near-Earth object when an asteroid flew roughly 2,200 miles over South America earlier this month.
NASA has improved its impact monitoring system, allowing the agency to better prepare for any near-Earth object that threatens to become an impacting-Earth-object.
In September, NASA's DART mission successfully altered the orbit of a tiny asteroid located around 6.8 million miles from Earth, a landmark demonstration of humanity's capacity to modify the motion of objects in space.
The recent approach of the elongated asteroid allowed scientists to better comprehend the variety of forms in space. The majority of objects in space are spherical or disc-shaped, so it's always exciting to locate an anomaly.