Moon-Toting Giant Asteroid 1998 QE2 Will Buzz by Earth

  • Share
  • Read Later

We constantly fret about external threats and foreign attacks — but its an entirely other level of concern when the offensive comes from outer space. Two close calls with asteroids earlier this year were a wake-up call about the threat space rocks pose to our planet. A 150-foot asteroid sideswiped the Earth at one-fourteeth the distance between our planet and the Moon. And that threat became real when a large meteor exploded over Russia on February 15th, injuring over 1,100 people from the damage by the shockwave.

On Friday afternoon, an asteroid larger than both of those combined will make its closest approach to Earth at 4:59 EST on May 31st. The asteroid, named 1998 QE2, is 1.7 miles (2.7 km) in diameter. The moniker follows a coding convention from the US Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But the name just happens to describe its enormous girth at  just over 9 times the size of the Cunard luxury liner Queen Elizabeth 2. In fact, it’s so large it’s been found to be carrying its own moon in tow. If an asteroid of this size hit Earth, the consequences could be devastating on a global scale. Fear not, though: this asteroid will speed by us at comfortable distance of 3.6 million miles.

However, the distance is close enough for two powerful radar facilities to catch detailed images. Both the Goldstone radar telescope in California and the Aricebo telescope in Puerto Rico will bounce microwave signals off 1998 QE2. The returning radar echoes contain surface details and other rich data that will help NASA scientists learn more about 1998 QE2 and add to the general knowledge of other known near-earth objects.

6 comments
kevin1981
kevin1981

May I get feedback from an astronomer becuase I don't think the president's science advisors know what they are doing. They  better be right about gamma ray bursts mr.president. If one was to happen the explosion better not hit earth's atmosphere. The Milky Way galaxy will warm up so get ready everyone. I HOPE NOT ALSO. I want to be wrong everybody especially about this. Take care USA.

kevin1981
kevin1981

I have been into astronomy for a while too but I don't think your science advisors know how powerful and HOT a gamma ray burst can be President Barack Obama. Listen everyone, imagine being just a few hundred thousand light years from the explosion of a neutron or binary stars, that must be the most blinding, brightest, extremely hot few seconds of misery that any species can endure. The sky would bright up as white as light and then you start to warm up just a little bit. LIFE is wiped out now because of gamma ray bursts. WE are alone and we are wasting  our time searching the cosmos for aliens. THEY ARE DEAD. I hope and pray a burst does not happen in our galaxy. The president doesn't want to either becuase his advisors don't know their astronomy. We will be turned into dust mr.president. I hope they keep studying gamma ray bursts.

kevin1981
kevin1981

I hope the president's advisors know what they are doing. If a gamma ray burst occurs in our galaxy I hope our planet doesn't heat up a million degrees. Look what's happening from billions of light years away. We can detect them from our satellites I can't imagine what's happening on all the planets in that galaxy. MELTDOWN and all life killed thanks to the intense heat. You don't have to be in the beams path of the burst itself. I hope your advisors know what they're doing mr.president. A million trillion suns is a lot and extremely HOT!

kevin1981
kevin1981

I am very grateful that asteroid missed us by just 4 million km and that in space is a walk down the street for a rock traveling at the speed of light. 192,000 km is very fast and it would have killed EVERYONE including me. That is the closet we ever want to get to extinction again.  We better have a magnetic shield in orbit to make sure the rock ostays clear  of usnow. NASA said that is our last threat in our solar system for a long time. Everyone take it easy but not let our guard DOWN. The president says the same thing. The universe is very dangerous and gamma ray bursts concern me now knowing there are no more rocks heading for us at least for now mankind. 

JohnDoeson1
JohnDoeson1

Goes to show we are NOT prepared for this kind of potential devastation - the Russian meteor proves it.  We didn't even know it was coming!