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NASA Deep Space Network snaps Potentially Hazardous Asteroid passing by Earth

NASA recently captured radar images of Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2008 OS7 as it made a close approach to Earth. Know all about it.

Updated on: Feb 29 2024, 19:06 IST
Stadium-sized asteroid 2008 OS7 sparked curiosity among scientists with its intriguing surface features. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Stadium-sized asteroid 2008 OS7 sparked curiosity among scientists with its intriguing surface features. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA recently provided a fascinating glimpse into the cosmos by capturing radar images of a stadium-sized asteroid as it passed by Earth. The asteroid, known as 2008 OS7, made a close approach to our planet on February 2, prompting NASA to utilize its Deep Space Network radar system to obtain detailed images of this celestial object.

NASA snaps Asteroid 2008 OS7

Measuring between 650 feet and 1,640 feet wide, the slowly-spinning asteroid posed no threat to Earth as it drifted past at a safe distance of approximately 2.9 million kilometers, a NASA report stated. This distance is over seven times the gap between our planet and the Moon, ensuring that there was no cause for concern regarding any potential impact. NASA said this asteroid was the size of a stadium! It was declared a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). This means its massive size, along with the close distance of approach, could potentially threaten Earth and could cause catastrophic damage if it is impacted.

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How was it discovered?

Originally discovered on July 30, 2009, by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey, 2008 OS7 was identified during routine search operations for near-Earth objects. Analysis of the light reflected by the asteroid provided valuable insights into its size, estimated to be between 200 and 500 meters wide, with a rotation period of approximately 29 and a half hours.

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However, the recent radar images obtained by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory revealed intriguing details about the asteroid's surface features. Utilizing the powerful 70-meter Goldstone Solar System Radar antenna dish at the Deep Space Network's facility near Barstow, scientists observed a mix of rounded and angular regions on the asteroid's surface. Moreover, these radar observations indicated that 2008 OS7 was smaller than initially estimated, highlighting the importance of precise measurements in understanding the characteristics of near-Earth objects.

NASA's ongoing efforts to study asteroids and other celestial bodies play a crucial role in enhancing our understanding of the solar system's dynamics and potential hazards. By leveraging advanced radar technology and observational capabilities, scientists continue to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos while ensuring the safety and security of our planet.

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First Published Date: 29 Feb, 19:06 IST