Saturday, October 31, 2015
5 Things to Know About the 'Halloween Asteroid'
By ALYSSA NEWCOMB
October 30, 2015 11:31 AM
While a Halloween asteroid whizzing by Earth sounds spooky, there's nothing to be afraid of.
An asteroid that was just discovered on Oct. 10 is set to whiz past Earth on Oct. 31 -- the closest encounter our planet has had with one of the massive speeding rocks since 2006, according to NASA.
Here's what you need to know about the giant rock NASA has nicknamed the "Great Pumpkin."
Coming within 1.3 lunar distances -- that's 310,000 miles -- the asteroid, called 2015 TB145, will brush past Earth but presents no threat to humans. NASA said this asteroid is incredibly fast and predicts it will zoom past Earth at 78,000 miles per hour.
It's estimated to be 1,300 feet wide. For some perspective, that's about the height of the Empire State Building.
When the asteroid passes by Earth around 1:05 p.m. ET, it's expected to be faint and not visible to the naked eye.
When the asteroid zooms past Earth, scientists hope to get a closer look at its physical properties while also testing out a new capability for obtaining radar images.
"We plan to test a new capability to obtain radar images with two-meter resolution for the first time and hope to see unprecedented levels of detail," Lance Benner, who leads NASA's asteroid radar research program, said in a NASA blog post.
With radar images as fine as seven feet per pixel, Benner and his team expect to see "a wealth of detail about the object's surface features, shape, dimensions and other physical properties."
It's worth noting that this asteroid was only discovered days ago. The next close encounter of an object that size is expected to happen in in August 2027. That asteroid -- 1999 AN10 -- is estimated to be 2,600-feet long and will brush by our planet at a distance of about 238,000 miles, according to NASA.
Posted by Olive Oyl at 4:00:00 PM