A ground-breaking asteroid with its own mini-moon in tow comes to Earth this weekend
- Binary asteroid system called 1999 KW4 comes closer on 25 May
- At that time, it will be 13.5 lunar distances away, or about 3 million miles from the Earth
- System contains an asteroid a mile wide and a smaller one orbiting the Earth
A binary asteroid that was first seen 20 years ago is ready for another meeting with Earth this week.
ESA follows the pair, known as the 1999 KW4, and says it gets steadily better as it approaches our planet before a May 25 approach.
Although it is classified as & # 39; potentially dangerous & # 39 ;, it is expected that 1999 KW4 will bend safely; at its closest, the object will be within 3,216,271 miles of the Earth – or 13.5 times the distance to the moon.
Asteroid 1999 KW4 is not just one but two objects, consisting of a larger space rock of about 1.3 kilometers wide (.8 miles) and a small companion orbiting the Earth.
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WHAT IS A POTENTIAL HAZARDOUS OBJECT?
A potentially dangerous asteroid (PHA) is an asteroid whose orbit comes closer than 0.05AU (about 7.5 million km) to Earth.
It is also at least 100 meters (300 feet) wide.
The International Astronomical Union claims that there are around 1500 potential dangerous asteroids.
Although these are not yet a risk to Earth, asteroid has as great a potential to cause devastation as they would land on our planet, especially in densely populated areas.
It is believed that the earth is hit once every 200 – 300 years.
This week, ESA shared a blurry look at the asteroid pair for the near approach.
The space agency, in collaboration with Observatoire des Makes on the French island of La Réunion, recently recorded, as part of the ongoing IAWN observation campaign, the first ground based observations of the 1999 KW4.
And they will have all hands on deck for the upcoming encounter.
& # 39; The goal is to test observatories and telescopes to become aware of what kind of information can be collected in the short term in the case of a near future approach to a potentially threatening asteroid & # 39 ;, says ESA.
Dozens of telescopes agree to collect observations, says ESA.
Asteroid 1999 KW4 was discovered on May 20, 1999 by the LINEAR collaboration using the observations of Goldstone and Arecibo.
It revolves around the sun about every 186 days on an elliptical path.
The object came relatively close to the earth several times in the last century and is even closer with its next approach in May 2036.
It is then expected to be within 1,487,292 miles away.
Previous observations have shown asteroid 1999. KW4 is very similar to a strangely shaped & # 39; mess & # 39; according to to Las Cumbres Observatory.
& # 39; The main body (primary) of 1999 KW4 is about 1300 meters wide, but is actually a fairly complex shape & # 39 ;, the researchers note.
Although it is classified as & # 39; potentially dangerous & # 39 ;, it is expected that 1999 KW4 (yellow lane) will go safely; at its closest, the object will be within 3,216,271 miles of the Earth (white) – or 13.5 times the distance to the moon
& # 39; It is lightly crushed at the poles and with a ridge around the equator, that runs all the way around the asteroid & # 39 ;, says the observatory.
& # 39; This edge gives the primary an appearance that looks like a walnut or a top.
& # 39; The secondary is about 500 meters wide and the two asteroids circle every 17.5 hours at a distance of about 1.6 miles. & # 39;
The upcoming approach will provide even more insight into his behavior, which will prove useful for upcoming missions supported by the Planetary Defense Coordination Office of NASA that wants to study similar systems.
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