A approximately 2 mile long asteroid called 1998 QE2 is going to pass by Earth on May 31st. The asteroid will be about 3.6 million miles away from Earth. Considering the distance it might not be a subject of concern, but distance is enough to get detailed images of the asteroid.
This asteroid has never been photographed so no one knows how it looks. At such a distance it will be possible for NASA to photograph the asteroid as detailed as 12 feet across. The 1998 QE2 will not be this close for next 200 years.
NASA’s astronomer Lance Benner quoted : “Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features and what they can tell us about it’s origin. We will also use radar measurements of the asteroid’s distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise.”
NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna in California and Arecibo Observatory located in Puerto Rico will be photographing the 1998 QE2 and will combining the information they will be gathering. This research will be helping in future missions of NASA, which will be including controlling asteroid for space mining.
Source : Gazeta Polska