Science News

NASA Reveals Asteroid 2004 BL86 Has Its Own Small Moon

NASA scientists working with the Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California, released the first radar images of 2004 BL86 and it appears the roughly 1,100 foot wide asteroid has a small moon, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory indicated in a report.

The asteroid, which flew past the Earth on January 26, 2015, was roughly 745,000 miles away from the Earth at its closest point, which occurred at 11:19 a.m. EST.

BL86, which Immortal News reported won’t be visible again for another couple hundred years even though it orbits the Sun every 1.84 years, was discovered by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey in White Sands, New Mexico on January 30, 2004. Its recent flyby was the closest a known asteroid of its size will come to the planet until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies by in the year 2027.

Radar allows scientists to study an asteroid’s size rotation state, surface features, shape, surface roughness, and assists with improving the calculation of asteroid orbits, NASA noted in their report.

United States assets have discovered over 98 percent of the known near-Earth objects (NEOs), as the country has the most robust and productive survey and detection program for discovering them.

NASA intends on launching a robotic probe to asteroid (101955) Bennu as a “pathfinder” which will pave the way for future spacecraft designed to perform reconnaissance on any newly discovered NEOs believed to be threatening.

The study of asteroids and comets allows researchers the opportunity to learn more about the source of water on Earth, the origins of our solar system and the organic molecules that led to the development of life.

NASA’s JPL constructed the video below from 20 radar images.

Roughly 16 percent of asteroids which measure more than 655 feet are binary or triple systems. A binary is a primary asteroid with a smaller asteroid moon orbiting it, whereas triple systems have two moons.

Did you catch glimpse of asteroid 2004 BL86 as it past by?

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