NASA has revealed the first pictures of a peanut-shaped asteroid that flew by the Earth on July 25. According to scientists the asteroid is a binary formation because images have shown that it is constituted of two lobes.
Researchers have associated the asteroid with a peanut because it has a long shape and a brownish color. In spite being compared to a harmless peanut, scientists believe the asteroid could have posed many threats to the population of the Earth, had it hit the surface of our planet.
The official name of the asteroid is now 1999 JD6 as researchers have labeled it in their catalogues. The images have been captured with the help of NASA’s DSS-14 Antenna which is located in Goldstone, California. However, many more details have been noticed through the lenses of the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.
Thanks to these scientific means of investigation, scientists have been able to conclude that the asteroid passed at a distance of 7.2 million km from Earth on July 25. Additional data shows that the peanut-shaped asteroid has a width of 1.2 miles, a calculation that has been obtained by analyzing the size, the shape and the rotations of the star.
Researchers believe similar space formations could approach the Earth more often in the following period. As a consequence, more studies must be conducted in order to keep the Earth protected from a possible asteroid incident which could turn out lethal for the entire population.
Scientists, who have taken part in the recent research have further stated that they will continue to investigate the two-lobed asteroid because they want to learn more about its size and its rotations. They have not been able to determine its real measures because the data has been at times contradictory.
A similar space object is now being studied by space experts at the European Space Agency. They are using their probes on Rosetta to better study the surface of comet 67P, but no relevant data has been registered yet.
Researchers have concluded by saying that the current data will be used for further investigations related to the space rotation of asteroids. These new findings could help scientists avoid possible collisions with the Earth.
1999 JD6 will be 4.5 million close to the Earth in 2054, NASA has concluded.
Image source: sciencemag.org
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