That little white pixelated bean spinning around above might look more like a bad ’80s video game than the near-messenger of quick and devastating apocalypse, but that’s what happens when you’re taking shots 120,000km away from your subject. What you’re seeing is in fact 2012 DA14 at a resolution of around 4m per pixel over an eight-hour period just as it was mercifully passing our beautiful space marble by on the evening of February 15.
The 72 individual frames were taken by NASA’s Goldstone Solar Systems Radar before being combined. Even though, by the end, the asteroid had moved about 60km away from Earth, these relatively few shots were still enough for NASA to make some estimations on its shape, size and rotation. And now that we know for sure that the asteroid didn’t come crashing down and destroy civilisation and humanity as we know it, watching it fly by is almost calming. Sort of. [NASA via Space.com]