NASA Researchers using Earth-based radar have produced sharp images of a recently discovered asteroid as it moved silently past our planet.
Captured on Sunday, the views of the asteroid designated “2014 HQ-124″ are some of the most detailed radar images of a near-Earth asteroid ever obtained.
The irregular-shaped asteroid, named “2014 HQ124,” is at least 1,200 feet long, and came within 776,000 miles of Earth on Sunday, which is just a bit farther away than three times the distance to the moon. The 21 radar images were captured by Jet Propulsion Laboratory researchers over 4 1/2 hours, and the asteroid was rotating at a rate of about once in just less than 24 hours.
To produce the images, the scientists used the 230-foot Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., and two other radio telescopes, the 1,000-foot Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico and a 112-foot antenna about 20 miles away. The Goldstone antenna beamed a radar signal at the asteroid and one of the other radio telescopes captured the reflections.
The asteroid was originally discovered on April 23 by NASA’s NEOWISE, a space telescope that scouts the skies for asteroids and comets.