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Asteroid 2005 YU55

By Edited Aug 5, 2015 0 0

Asteroid Flyby

On November 8th, 2011, asteroid" 2005 YU55 " will come safely past the Earth. Measuring 1,300 foot wide, the asteroid will fly past Earth a little closer than the moon's orbit. Tracking the space rock will be NASA's scientists. Using the antennas of NASA's Deep Space Network at Goldstone, California, scientists will be able to scan it during its passing.

Asteroid 2005 YU55 will be tracked starting on November 4th. For at least four hours a day, from November 6th through November 10th, the aircraft carrier sized YU55 will continually be tracked by Goldstone.  In 2010, the asteroid was slowly spinning with a turning point of about 18 hours. The surface of YU55 was observed to be darker than charcoal. The November encounter with the asteroid will be the closest it has come to Earth for at least the last 200 years.

Asteroid 2005 YU55
Credit: spacedaily.com


Discovered in December 28, 2005 by Robert McMillian of the Spacewatch Program at the University of Arizona, Tucson, it's approach will be from the sunward side making it difficult to view in visible light until after it has made its closest pass.

Similar to comet Elenin, Asteroid 2055 YU55 will not have any physical effects on Earth, regarding earthquakes and tidal waves. The gravitational effect on the Earth will be so small that it will be immeasurable.

Asteroid 2005 YU55(68557)
Credit: spacedaily.com


Scientists will use the Goldstone and Arecibo antennas to bounce radio waves off the Asteroid. The returning radio waves will be collected then analyzed. Hoping to learn more about YU55, scientists hope to capture images from Goldstone as fine as 7 feet per pixel. With this information images can be transformed into 3-D shapes with features and spin rates identified. 

Using ground and space telescopes, NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets that pass close to Earth. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, known as "Spaceguard" discovers asteroid and comets, then plots their orbits to ascertain if any are potentially hazardous to Earth.

Orbiting the sun once ever 14 years, YU55 will not collide with Earth for a least a century. Still officially labelled a potentially hazardous object, if the asteroid were to hit the earth it would have a force equivalent to 65,000 atomic bombs and would leave a crater 2,000 feet deep and 6 miles wide.

Asteroid 2005 YU55(68563)
Credit: tommytoy.typepad.com

In 1976, a space rock as big as YU55 came close to Earth, but at the time astronomers had no knowledge of the flyby. The next known occurence of an asteroid this large near Earth will be in 2028, when asteroid 2001 WN5 will come withing 0.6 lunar distances. Discovered by the LONEOS Project at Anderson Mesa on November 20, 2001, WN5 was classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid. It will pass within 250,000km from the Earth on June 26,2028.

Any amateur astronomers who want to take a look at YU55 will need to use a telescope with an aperture of 6 inches or larger.  Even though you will not be able to observe the asteroid with the naked eye, a pair of binoculars will also work.



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