I don’t know what Earth’s done in recent times to make itself so delicious to passing space rocks, but this morning at 7am, asteroid 1998 QE2 came within 5.8 million km of our little planet — close enough for NASA to consider it a “close shave”.
1998 QE2 is around 2.75km wide, which is pretty big in anyone’s books, but what makes it particularly cool is that it has its own satellite. That’s right, there’s an even smaller hunk of rock — about 600m wide — in orbit around it.
Not that anyone would notice if 1998 QE2 smashed into Earth. Fortunately, it’s something we don’t have to worry about, at least not for another 200 years, as the asteroid (now finished trolling the human race) makes its way out towards Jupiter, according to this story over at the ABC.
Still, coming within 6 million km of Earth was enough for NASA to pay the big fella some respect:
“For an asteroid of this size, it’s a close shave,” said Paul Chodas, a scientist with NASA’s Near Earth Object program office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
If you’re having some difficulty picturing 1998 QE2, here’s how it would fit in the middle of Sydney’s inner west:
You can view some radar shots of the asteroid in the video below. It’s incredibly long, so to save you the trouble of watching the whole thing, skip to the 1:03:51-mark to catch the images.