Asteroid set to pass Earth has its own moon

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 31, 2013 at 6:41 AM

Updated Friday, May 31 at 6:43 AM

Radar images show an asteroid which is set to pass the Earth at a safe distance Friday has its own satellite, or moon, that orbits it.

NASA says Asteroid 1998 QE2 is expected to make its closest approach to Earth at 1:59 p.m. PDT Friday and will get no closer than 3.6 million miles. That’s about 15 times the distance from the Earth to our own moon. This is the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth for at least the next two centuries

The images, taken Wednesday, show the asteroid has several dark surface features that suggest large concavities. It is about 1.7 miles in diameter.

The preliminary estimate for the size of the asteroid's satellite is approximately 2,000 feet wide.

NASA recently announced development of a first-ever mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid for human exploration.

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is available at: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/, http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch and via Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/asteroidwatch

More information about asteroid radar research is at: http://echo.jpl.nasa.gov/

More information about the Deep Space Network is at: http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn

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