This composite image of asteroid 2007 PA8 was obtained using data taken by NASA's 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif. The composite incorporates images generated from data collected at Goldstone on Oct. 28, 29, and 30, 2012. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Gemini

This composite image of asteroid 2007 PA8 was obtained using data taken by NASA’s 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif. The composite incorporates images generated from data collected at Goldstone on Oct. 28, 29, and 30, 2012.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Gemini


Mile-Wide Asteroid Photographed by NASA

A mile-wide asteroid was recently photographed by scientists at NASA using radar. The huge rock, named “asteroid 2007 PA8,” was photographed over the course of several days in late October by astronomers with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Astronomers used NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California, to get the shots of the slightly oblong asteroid.

The asteroid, which was discovered in 2007 by scientists in Massachusetts, was about four million miles from Earth on November 5. When it was first photographed last month, it was about five million miles from the planet.

There is no reason to worry about the asteroid getting any closer to Earth. It will not get any closer to our planet for another two hundred years.

Scientists say that the asteroid has craters and ridges, some of which can be partially seen in NASA’s images. The asteroid is said to rotate very slowly, only completing a rotation about every three or four days.

NASA writes:

“The trajectory of asteroid 2007 PA8 is well understood … This flyby was the closest Earth approach by this asteroid for at least the next 200 years.”

The mile-wide asteroid may be getting all of the attention today, but NASA is also keeping an eye on Asteroid 2012 VD5. Asteroid 2012 VD5 ran past earth early this morning at a range of about 367,000 miles. That asteroid, however, was only about 20 meters wide and is not considered hazardous to earth.