NASA captures an unusual extremely long asteroid in new images

NASA recorded in new photographs  an elongated space rock that passed by Earth on February 3.

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NASA  maintains the constant task of observing outer space in search of news and one of the most recent left it perplexed Through six radar observations, the US space agency detected an asteroid with an unusual elongated shape that passed close to Earth a few days ago. This space rock is three times as long as it is wide, quite irregular dimensions for this type of celestial body.

According to what NASA reported through its official website , the asteroid is called 2011 AG5 and has the approximate shape and size of the Empire State Building in New York if the 67.7-meter antenna on top is removed. . The closest approach of the space rock occurred on February 3, when it came within 1.7 million kilometers of our planet. For comparison, the James Webb Space Telescope is located 1.6 million kilometers from Earth .

A strange asteroid passed close to Earth

Asteroid 2011 AG5 was first detected, as its name suggests, in 2011. However, it wasn’t until weeks ago that the celestial body got close enough for scientists to get a good look at it. It measures about 487 meters long and 152 meters wide. The observation was made by Goldstone Solar System Radar at a Deep Space Network facility between January 29 and February 4.

According to what the team that detected and measured the asteroid indicated, it is an extremely long specimen. “Of the 1,040 NEOs observed by planetary radar to date, this is one of the most elongated we’ve seen ,” said Lance Benner , principal scientist at NASA ‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory .

The team also found that 2011 AG5 ‘s rotation speed is quite slow, taking about nine hours to complete one rotation. The next passage of the asteroid by the Earth will not take place until 2040, when it will approach about 10 thousand kilometers to our planet, about three times closer than the Moon . For now, it continues its 621-day orbit around the Sun.

One of the rarest asteroids observed by NASA

Near- Earth objects pass our planet regularly and are constantly monitored by NASA with its various instruments and facilities. In January, an asteroid passed about 3,000 kilometers above South America, making it one of the closest documented flybys of a near-Earth object. Fortunately, it did not cause any damage.

NASA has recently updated its impact monitoring system to be ready in case a near-Earth object threatens to collide with the planet. In September, NASA ‘s DART mission successfully changed the orbit of a small asteroid some 10.9 million kilometers from Earth, one of the first demonstrations that humanity has the ability to alter the motion of objects in space.

The recent observation of asteroid 2011 AG5 gave astronomers the opportunity to better understand the diversity of celestial body shapes that exist in space. Most of these space objects are spheres or disks, so always finding one with such an elongated shape was unusual.