The 1.7 mile (2.7 kilometers) long asteroid 1998 QE2 will get no closer than 3.6 million miles of Earth. It’s a golden opportunity for astronomers, who plan to extensively image the temporary visitor.
Lance Benner, radar astronomer from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab said, “Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be an outstanding radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo and we expect to obtain a series of high-resolution images that could reveal a wealth of surface features.”
Though 1998 QE2 will be flying 3.6 million miles away of Earth, by zooming in 1998 QE2, the 230 feet (70 meter) wide Deep Space Network antenna, located at Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California’s Mojava Desert will be able to detect details 12 feet (3.75 meters) across.
Benner said, “Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin. We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid’s distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise.”
For more details, visit NASA website.