Two large asteroids approached Earth in late June: Here’s how NASA captured them

The Goldstone radar of the NASA in California recently observed two large asteroids that approached Earth at the end of June. The images obtained by the radar were shared on July 3, 2024, revealing fascinating details about these celestial bodies.

The first of these asteroids, called 2011 UL21was observed for nine days and was found to harbor a small moon about 3 km away. This asteroid has a diameter of about 1.5 km and is one of the largest near-Earth asteroids visible this year with amateur telescopes. It passed within a safe distance of 6,634,279 km of Earth on June 27which is about 17 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.

The second asteroid, known as 2024 MKwas observed for three days. Discovered on June 16, 2024, this asteroid is smaller, with an estimated diameter of 150 meters. Despite its smaller size, its proximity to Earth was remarkable, passing just 3/4 of the distance between Earth and the Moon on June 29This approach altered its orbit due to Earth’s gravity, reducing its orbital period around the Sun by about 24 days.

Asteroid 2011 UL21 Approaches Earth

The Minor Planet Center classified both 2011 UL21 and 2024 MK as potentially hazardous asteroids. However, there is no danger of impact in the near future. Furthermore, observations of these celestial bodies offer a unique opportunity to better understand the composition and formation of asteroids, as well as develop possible countermeasures on a global scale.

“Radar observations made during these two close approaches will provide valuable practice for planetary defense, as well as information about their sizes, orbits, rotation, surface details, and clues about their composition and formation,” NASA said.



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