On June 8, 2014, an asteroid shaped like a bowling pin and roughly the length of the Empire State Building shot past Earth. At its closest approach, the asteroid, called 2014 HQ124, came within one million miles of the planet. Though it passed at a safe distance, its size and the proximity of its orbit qualify it for classification as a potentially hazardous object—one of more than 1,000 migrating bodies known to exist in the solar system that could have a devastating effect in the event of a collision. Scientists first spotted the asteroid on April 23, 2014, using NASA’s NEOWISE spacecraft. On June 8, a trio of ground-based telescopes, including NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna in California, made radar observations of its surface. The views obtained by the telescopes suggest the asteroid’s elongated figure may actually be the result of two individual asteroids that are traveling together as one. Watch the video to see images of asteroid 2014 HQ124.
Please give credit for this item to: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Video and radar images courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arecibo Observatory/USRA/NSF Asteroid orbit diagram courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech Deep Space Network antenna image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech
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