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NASA releases video of asteroid hurtling through space

November 8, 2011 |  3:36 pm

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Tuesday afternoon released the first video of the 1,300-foot-wide asteroid that was scheduled to whiz 201,000 miles from Earth at 3:28 p.m. PST.

The giant space rock looks a bit like a rotating fuzz ball, but the video also reveals the crags and peaks of the asteroid as it flies through space.

The video was created from radar data collected Monday by the Deep Space Network antenna in the Mojave Desert outside Barstow, a giant 230-foot-wide dish that’s been blasting the asteroid with microwaves. JPL scientists are using the radio telescope again to track the rock.

JPL officials said, with the data gathered since Friday on the asteroid’s speed, trajectory and physical characteristics, they have been able to plot its course for the next 64 years. The asteroid will have another close encounter with Earth in 2075, and skim close to Venus in 2029 – but not collide with either.

“We know the orbit extremely well, said Robert S. McMillan, who leads the University of Arizona Spacewatch Project and discovered the asteroid in December 2005. “We know it’s not going to hit the Earth."

But, he warned, NASA and other scientists will have to keep an eye on the asteroid because its course after 2075 cannot be determined reliably – even with all the new research.


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