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Asteroid 9 Times Size of Ocean Liner Approaches Earth

Science & Tech  (tags: Science, Asteroid, 1998 QE2, space object, minor planet, NASA )

- 1801 days ago -
The 1998 QE2 asteroid has the physical mass to potentially deliver life on Earth a knockout punch, being 2.7km in length. It is to buzz our planet on May 31, aweing the stargazing community.

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Angelika R (143)
Saturday May 18, 2013, 6:41 pm
The 1998 QE2 asteroid has the physical mass to potentially deliver life on Earth a knockout punch, being 2.7km in length. It is to buzz our planet on May 31, aweing the stargazing community.

Officially known as Asteroid 1998 QE2, the ‘minor planet’, as astronomers refer to these space objects, is about nine times the length of its name-sharing ocean liner, Queen Elizabeth 2.

The incoming space object is not named in honor of Queen Elizabeth II, however, nor the 12-deck QE2 luxury liner. It’s simply the designation assigned by the US Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, based on an alphanumeric code for naming newly-discovered asteroids.

Aside from the asteroid’s hulking mass, another thing that intrigues astronomers about QE2 is that nobody can say with any certainty where it came from.

One clue to its origins, however, is that its surface is said to be covered with a sticky, black residue, suggesting that it may be the remains of a comet that came in close proximity to the sun, Amy Mainzer, a researcher at Jet Propulsion Laboratory at La Cañada Flintridge, California, told the Los Angeles Times.

Another explanation is that QE2, discovered on August 19, 1998 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was originally part of the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, she said.

QE2’s nearest approach happens on May 31 at 20:59 GMT, bringing the huge space rock to within 3.6 million miles (5.8 million km) of Earth – about 15 times the distance to the Moon. While this may seem a great distance, in astronomical terms it is a mere stone’s throw away.

Mainzer emphasized the significance of the asteroid, drawing parallels with a past celestial event that had devastating consequences for the entire planet.

"This is a really big asteroid, similar in size to the one that killed off the dinosaurs, and it's getting very close to us," she told the Times.

"Fortunately we've been tracking its orbit very carefully so we know with great certainty it won't hit us. We don't need to panic, but we do need to pay attention, she added.

Since the threat of a doomsday scenario seems unlikely, astronomers will be given an opportunity to study the physical characteristics of asteroids, as well as their history.

"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 its origin,” radar astronomer Lance Benner, the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.

Observers will take advantage of radar technology to measure the asteroid's distance and velocity to improve the calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise, he added.

The next arrival of Asteroid 1998 QE2 following its near-miss on May 31 will not occur again for another two centuries.

Elaine Dixon (17)
Saturday May 18, 2013, 7:37 pm
thanks for sharing

Terry V (30)
Saturday May 18, 2013, 7:54 pm

Sue Matheson (79)
Saturday May 18, 2013, 8:24 pm

Isabella Linde (0)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 1:51 am
thanks for sharing

Pogle S (88)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 2:42 am
"We know with great certainty it won't hit us. We don't need to panic!" Haha! Well that's okay then, let's celebrate a near miss :-)

Animae C (514)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 2:54 am
Cracks me up when they assure us it won't hit earth, as if they were going to tell us if it would!

Lynn D (0)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 3:12 am

Lydia M (80)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 3:15 am
Noted...Thanks for sharing... Holding Breath & Biting Fingernails...!!

Virginia Belder (35)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 3:18 am

Tanya W (65)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 3:33 am
Noted. Interesting thanks. I love Space Exploration and all it entails.

Past Member (0)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 4:13 am

Past Member (0)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 5:06 am
Sound frightening

Past Member (0)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 5:13 am

. (0)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 5:48 am
Sounds scary. Thanks for sharing.

Cyrille D (137)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 5:54 am
Noted ! :) Always so interesting to learn about what's going on outside our atmosphere !

Alexandra Rodda (180)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 5:57 am
A miss is as good as a mile. Whew! It will be interesting to study it. Of course if in 200 years it is due to hit the earth, it is very unlikely that there will be a civilization here able to deflect it. Global warming will see to that.

David C (133)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 6:37 am
at least this would be one thing humanity cannot be blamed for......agree with Alexandra.

Past Member (0)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 7:26 am
Agreeing with Alexandra.

Alan Lambert (91)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 7:26 am
We know it won't hit us THIS orbit. eventually it will hit something. whether it's Earth or Luna or something else...

Gloria p (304)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 7:36 am
Bring it on!

Theodore Shayne (56)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 8:29 am
Tractor beams at the ready Commander. We laugh in the face of extinction.....:)

Amy L (112)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 10:12 am
Are they just saying it won't hit us so we don't panic, quit work, stop paying bills, taxes, take off and be with the people we love most and do things we've always wanted to do?

Angelika R (143)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 10:32 am
Amy, in 12 days you'll know! ;-)

Jo S (619)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 12:51 pm
How cool, I love hearing about things like this. Very interesting. Thanks, Angie, you are right, we will see what happens in 12 days. Thanks for the post.
Noted & shared.

Betty Kelly (4)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 1:12 pm
Hey Peeps; when "God, Mother Nature, & Father Time get sick & tiered of Humanities GREED & CRUELTIES we will get smacked with this asteroid. With this threat in sight; don't you think we should act against Greed & Cruelties?

Kim O (396)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 6:28 pm
Thanks for sharing this one Angelika! Verrrrry interesting!!

Shawna S (45)
Sunday May 19, 2013, 9:34 pm
I'll be watching. It's cool to be watching for things from the "outer worlds" - aka asteroids, comets and aliens, and the "under worlds" - aka oceans, lakes, streams. The planet Earth is truly a magical place....isn't it??
Thanks Angelika :")

Angelika R (143)
Monday May 20, 2013, 9:42 am
Shawna, be sure to visit a planetarium for watching, with your bare eyes from home you will not see much :-)

Spirit Spider (86)
Monday May 20, 2013, 10:44 am
Cool stuff :-)

Henriette Matthijssen (154)
Monday May 20, 2013, 3:25 pm
Thanks Angie for the article! Interesting!

Laurie H (817)
Monday May 20, 2013, 6:49 pm
Thanks for sharing this post Angelika. When it comes to the "Authorities," and their predictions, I say, "I believe none of what I hear and half of what I see!!!" Of course in 200 years, I may change my mind!!!! Thanks again Angelika!!~

Elizabeth Fuller (134)
Tuesday May 21, 2013, 7:41 am
It is times like this when I wish I owned a decent telescope :) Thanks for the post Angie.
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