On November 9, 2011, asteroid 2005 YU55 blazed past Earth at nearly 25,000 miles per hour. Overshooting our planet by more than 200,000 miles, the asteroid didn't pose a threat of a catastrophic collision. However, the quarter-mile-wide tumbling space rock did dip below the moon's orbit, making it one of the closest asteroid approaches of its size identified to date. As ground-based telescopes tracked the asteroid using radar, infrared and optical light, NASA's Swift satellite imaged it at ultraviolet wavelengths. Observing the asteroid using ultraviolet light gave insight into the makeup of its surface—information astronomers can use to predict its future trajectory. Researchers estimate the asteroid, which is locked in orbit around the sun, will pass safely by our planet in 2041 and 2075. Watch the video to see satellite footage of asteroid 2005 YU55 hurtling through space.
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Swift footage and images courtesy of NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler and DSS
Goldstone radar images courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech
Near-Earth asteroid image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech