Asteroid HQ124: NASA Captures Images of 'The Beast' Asteroid nearby Earth

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By Jenalyn Villamarin | June 17, 2014 5:58 PM EST

The NASA Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer discovered Asteroid HQ124 moving at 31,000 miles per hour or 50,400 kilometers per hour in space. Researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) did not waste any time in learning more about the potentially hazardous asteroid given the nickname "The Beast."

According to the Science World report, Asteroid HQ124 passed by planet Earth at a safe distance and NASA managed to capture images of "The Beast" in order to reveal more information about the mass of rock.

At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Lance Benner and his colleagues disclosed the size of the Asteroid HQ124 which is at least 1,200 feet wide with a figure bearing a resemblance to a bowling pin or chicken drumstick. Click HERE to see photos.

The experts were able to capture the detailed images from the 230-foot Deep Space Network (DSN) antenna in Goldstone, California paired with a small 112-foot antenna 20 miles from the DSN and the 1,000-foot Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. The set up successfully bounced off radio signals of Asteroid HQ124 that captured the images on Sunday, June 8.

"By itself, the Goldstone antenna can obtain images that show features as small as the width of a traffic lane on the highway. With Arecibo now able to receive our highest-resolution Goldstone signals, we can create a single system that improves the overall quality of the images," Lance Benner explained in the Mail Online report.

Benner led the radar observations with scientists Marina Brozovic while the Jet Propulsion Laboratory researchers worked with Michael Nolan, Patrick Taylor, Ellen Howell and Alessondra Springmann at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico in accomplishing the observations. With the classification of the asteroid as potentially hazardous and its size at 1,200 feet wide, the massive asteroid has the capability of wiping out a city if it hit planet Earth.

Mark Boslough, an American physicist and expert on planetary impacts, revealed that a catastrophic effect would have happened when an object having the size of Asteroid HQ124 struck Earth. "Based on its size, and assuming it would still be a solid rock at the time of impact, it would lead to an explosion of about 2,000 megatonnes, enough to wipe out an entire metropolitan area," Boslough stated.

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