NASA Captured Images of Near-Earth Asteroid 2007 PA8 [PHOTOS]

  on November 28 2012 11:19 AM

NASA scientists captured images of near-Earth Asteroid 2007 PA8 with the Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California between October 31 and November 13, 2012. NASA described the asteroid in the released images as an irregularly shaped and stretched-out object with ridges and craters.

With the help of the 70m Deep Space Network antenna, NASA scientists were also able to point out that the large piece of space rock is slowly rotating once every three to four days when the asteroid passed by planet Earth. The asteroid's measurement is approximately 1.6 kilometers wide. New radar measurements of asteroid 2007 PA8's distance and line-of-sight velocity developed calculations of its orbit about the sun which enables dependable calculations of the asteroid's movement for the next 632 years.

NASA monitors and describes asteroids and comets that are passing by close to Earth with the use of both ground- and space-based telescopes. Near-Earth Object Observations Program or the usually called "Spaceguard" discovers and thoroughly examines these space objects to determine whether they are a threat to our planet. Based on NASA's data, asteroid 2007 PA8 holds no threat to Earth.

Asteroid 2007 PA8's 2012 flyby was the nearest to Earth since 1880. NASA claimed the asteroid was 6.5 million kilometers away which is approximately 17 times the distance between Earth and the moon. The next asteroid flyby closer to Earth compared to the one that recently occurred will be in 2488 where the asteroid will come no closer than 5.8 million kilometers.

Meanwhile, scientists are now remarkably improving in monitoring and detecting near-Earth asteroids. Back in June, Australian astronomers noticed the Asteroid 2012 LZ1 that passed by the Earth within 5.3 million kilometers which a size of barely 500 meters in diameter.  

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