Huge Asteroid's Flyby; 3-Mile Wide Asteroid Caught on Video
on Dec 16, 2012 09:19 PM EST
New video recorded last week shows a flyby of a giant asteroid near Earth.
The asteroid known as 4179 Toutatis approached Earth's vicinity on Dec. 12 and was still able to be seen by telescope the day after.
The massive 3-mile-wide asteroid was caught on video by scientists at NASA's Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif.
The 40 second long video can be seen at Space.com and was put together using a combination of around 64 radar images gathered from Toutatis's two day pass. The high-quality images reveal the details of the asteroid's composition including ridges and bright glints that may be surface boulders.
The asteroid can also be seen spinning about its long axis every 5.4 days and the moves clumsily through space.
The Slooh Space Camera and Virtual Telescope Project also provided a live stream of the asteroid as it made its first approach.
While Toutatis was near enough for a stellar show, it wasn't close enough to be a threat to the planet. The asteroid buzzed the Earth at a distance of around 4.3 million miles which can be compared to the distance the moon orbits from Earth at around 240,000 mile.
Toutatis takes a single trip around the sun around every four years. The next time it will make a similar approach to the Earth will be in November 2069. During that occasion it will be closer than it was during the recent planetary buzz and should come about 1.8 million miles away from Earth.
The asteroid may pass Earth again on another round in the future and if it ever did hit the planet, it would cause massive damage, according to MSN. However, scientists do not believe Toutatis could pose a threat to the planet for at least another four centuries. The asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs when it hit Earth 65 million years ago was around 6-miles-wide.
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