Can you guess what was just spotted next to asteroid 1998 QE2?
Asteroid has a traveling companion.
Officials from NASA are now telling reporters that asteroid 1998 QE2, has a surprising companion. The striking revelation came about just as the 1.7 mile-long space rock is about to pass by Earth.
The moon which orbits the larger asteroid is about 600 meters in diameter, about the length of six-and-a-half football fields.
At a distance of 3.75 million miles, the radar revealed the tiny moon as a small bright spot next to the much larger asteroid.
In addition to discovering the tiny moon, astronomers also learned that the asteroid is rotating more slowly than expected.
None of this has any effect on life on Earth, other than to astonish astronomers. Asteroid 1998 QE2 is not on a collision course with Earth, despite its close approach on Friday.
Astronomers are taking advantage of the close approach to map the surface of the object, as best they can, using radar.
Astronomers say that about 16 percent of all asteroids are binary systems, or even triple systems. Asteroids are minor planets in their own right, except they tend to be very small by comparison. Sometimes they have tiny moons of their own.
Despite their small size however, they can disrupt life on Earth if they are large enough to survive reentry into the atmosphere. Fortunately, no such event has occurred with significant impact, in recorded human history.
Smaller asteroids have exploded in the atmosphere such as the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15, 2013.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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