NASA Radar Shows Near-Earth Asteroid Bringing Its Own Moon

CBS Los Angeles

PASADENA (CBSLA.com) — A mile-long asteroid set to pass safely by Earth on Friday appears to be bringing along a companion.

Radar imagery showed that asteroid “1998 QE2” is a binary asteroid, according to researchers at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena.

About 16 percent of asteroids that are about 655 feet or larger are binary or triple systems, according to JPL.

Data shows the main body of the asteroid is approximately 1.7 miles in diameter and has a rotation period of less than four hours. Radar imagery also shows the space rock has several dark surface features that suggest large concavities.

The preliminary estimate for the size of the asteroid’s satellite, or moon, is approximately 2,000 feet wide, researchers said. The moon appears in JPL images as a small, bright object orbiting 1998 QE2.

The radar observations were led by JPL scientist Marina Brozovic using a sequence of radar…

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