From the ABC 7 Weather team

NASA releases movie of Earth-hugging Asteroid 2005 YU55

November 9, 2011 - 02:10 PM
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Ground stations caught footage of asteroid YU55 as it made a historic brush by Earth last night. It kind of looks like a doughnut hole.

NASA's ground stations caught footage of Asteroid 2005 YU55 as it made a historic close approach to Earth last night. It kind of looks like a doughnut hole.

The video, which Internet commenters have already agreed is fake, incorporates the most detailed radar data in existence of a near-Earth asteroid. It was taken by the Goldstone Solar System Radar as the rocky stranger was riding into town at a distance of 860,000 miles. The asteroid swiftly closed the gap and buzzed the planet by just 200,000 miles around 6:30 p.m. The moon, in contrast, floats an average of 238,854 miles away.

The film uses six frames taken over the course of two hours. What does it tell us? According to SpaceWeather's account:

"The images achieve a resolution as fine as 3.75 meters and reveal a number of features that may be boulders on the surface, craters, and possibly ridges," says radar astronomer Lance Benner of JPL, principal investigator for the 2005 YU55 observations.

Say goodbye for now to YU55, the little asteroid that couldn't destroy the planet. It will return in 2041 for another shot.

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