NASA is tracking a large near-Earth asteroid as it passes by the Earth-Moon system on May 31st. Amateur astronomers in the northern hemisphere may be able to see the space rock for themselves during the 1st week of June.
During early live coverage on NASA Television and nasa.gov of asteroid 1998 QE2’s flyby of Earth, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., showed live telescope images of the asteroid and hosted a discussion with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and experts from JPL and the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex. Goldstone will be using radar to track and image the asteroid. At 4:59 p.m. EDT, Friday, May 31, the pass by Earth of 1998 QE2, at a safe distance of about 3.6 million miles — is the asteroid’s closest scheduled encounter with the planet for at least the next two centuries. The asteroid was discovered Aug. 19, 1998 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Program near Socorro, N.M.
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Revealing Asteroids with Radar
When Asteroid 1998 QE2 makes its closest approach to Earth on May 31, 2013, it promises to be a bonanza for radar science.