NASA researchers have released spectacular images of the colossal asteroid, nicknamed “The Beast,” which flew by the Earth this past Sunday. Officially titled 2014 HQ124, the asteroid was only found by one of NASA’s deep space telescopes back in April and it had been modified for exploration of the skies for comets and asteroids, the space agency explained.
The asteroid neared the Earth at a fairly close distance early Sunday morning, coming within 777,000 miles of Earth’s atmosphere, or around three times the distance of the Moon. It was moving at a speed of 31,000 mph in relation to Earth. The space rock flew by safe and sound and never posed any type of impact threat with the planet. However if any cosmic object of that size were to smash into Earth, it could possibly do very severe damage.
In order to create the images of The Beast, scientists bounced radio signals toward the asteroid from one of NASA’s antenna’s located in California. Combined with pictures taken by the giant William E. Gordon telescope that is located in Puerto Rico, the data resulted in some of the most comprehensive, high-resolution images that were ever recorded of a nearby asteroid. The telescope was able to capture features that were as minute as 12 feet wide and showed that the asteroid was most likely made up of two different rock lobes merged together, stated NASA.
Lance Benner, who works for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, explained that by itself, the antenna was able to achieve images of the asteroid which displayed features that were considered to be about the size of the width of a highway traffic lane. Astronomers stated that it was too early to say precisely what kind of asteroid the Beast actually is but Benner stated that 2014 HQ124 may have been formed from two slighter asteroids which came together violently as was mentioned above.
To the present date, the United States has discovered nearly 98 percent of all known near Earth space objects so NASA is presently working on a first mission which would be able to recognize, capture and change the direction of an asteroid flying too close to the Earth to a steady orbit around the Moon. Astronauts on the Orion spacecraft will be taking on underwater training before they search around that asteroid in the 2020’s.
The Beast earned its nickname before it flew by Earth because of its size and the damage it could do. However after astronomers received the pictures of the asteroid from the telescopes; they instead decided to give it another name which was Beauty. Mike Nolan, who works as one of the staff scientists at the Puerto Rican observatory, stated that by using telescopes from different parts of the world made it possible to illustrate the structure of asteroid much more accurately.
Nolan explained that if someone wanted to mine an asteroid, this type of technology would allow the individual to know if he or she should bring dynamite or a shovel. The Beast was only found on April 23 of this year and believed huge enough to be able to abolish entire cities if it struck Earth in the wrong place. That is why it was nicknamed the Beast in the first place.
Scientists were able to obtain radar views shortly after the nearest Earth approach and that was when 2014 HQ124 was flying away at a distance of 865,000 to 900,000 miles. The NASA researchers released remarkable images of the colossal asteroid, which flew by the Earth this past Sunday. Officially titled 2014 HQ124, the Beast was found by one of NASA’s deep space telescopes which has been modified for exploration of the skies for comets and asteroids, the space agency explained.
By Kimberly Ruble