Scientists from Nasa captured amazing images of the space peanut asteroid that flew close to Earth last weekend.
The Nasa scientists estimated the width of the peanut-shaped asteroid to be 1.2 miles. The DSS-14 antenna located at the Goldstone Complex in the Majoave Desert in California transmitted radar signals that were sent towards 1999 JD6.
The radar signals were also received by the NRAO Green Bank Telescope, situated in West Virginia. The actual width of the asteroid was determined after analyzing the shape, rotation and size of the star.
The measurements were done by beaming a radar signal from the Goldstone antenna at the asteroid and in return, by receiving the reflections with the help of the Green Bank Telescope.
The 1999 JD6 asteroid was nicknamed by researches, the “space peanut”, because of its unusual shape.
This type of asteroid is knows as a contact binary. It consists of two close lobes, similar to the ones of the comet 67P, studied by the European Space Agency.
Although it was given a harmless name, peanut, researchers believe that the asteroid could have represented a series of serious threats to humanity, if it had hit Earth’s surface.
The asteroid was spotted at its closest range to Earth, approximately 7.2 million kilometers, on the 24th of July.
Nasa has implemented a mission destined to track any asteroids that could represent potential threat to our planet.
Nasa scientists stated that such an event, when the asteroid will be this close to our home planet, will happen again in the 2054.
Researchers said that they will keep studying the peanut shaped asteroid, in order to find out more information about its size and rotation. Sean Marshall, a student that graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, states that by doing so we will be able to better understand the mysteries behind the asteroid’s size and origin.
Studies show that the space peanut rotates in just seven and a half hours and it is believed to be a dark object. In order to better understand the universe and to be able to protect and keep our planet safe, we must conduct further studies on similar asteroids.