Asteroid May Provide Clues About Earth's Formation
An asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier may yield clues to the formation of Earth when it passes by on November 8, according to researchers.
NASA scientists will use a radar telescope to analyze exactly what the asteroid is made of and get a better idea where it came from, the Daily Telegraph reports.
"We hope to obtain images that should reveal a wealth of detail about the asteroid's surface features, shape, dimensions and other physical properties," a NASA spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph.
The asteroid, which is known as 2005 YU55 and orbits the Sun, will pass between the Earth and Moon in the evening of Tuesday, November 8.
"What is unique about this asteroid flyby is that we were aware of it well in advance," said Jay Melosh, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Purdue University, as reported by WRTV Indianapolis. "Before about 1980 we wouldn't know about an asteroid of this size until it was already making a close pass, but now it is unlikely that such an asteroid will approach the Earth without our knowledge."
Though 2005 YU55 will be the first asteroid to pass this close to Earth in 35 years and could destroy a large city if it took a direct hit, Dr. Emily Baldwin, deputy editor of Astronomy Now magazine, said this asteroid posed no threat, according to the Daily Telegraph.