[meteorite-list] Asteroid 2004 BL86 That Flew Past Earth Today Has Moon

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:37:54 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <201501262237.t0QMbt8p022756_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Asteroid That Flew Past Earth Today Has Moon
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
January 26, 2015

This GIF shows asteroid 2004 BL86, which safely flew past Earth on Jan.
26, 2015. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists working with NASA's 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network
antenna at Goldstone, California, have released the first radar images
of asteroid 2004 BL86. The images show the asteroid, which made its closest
approach today (Jan. 26, 2015) at 8:19 a.m. PST (11:19 a.m. EST) at a
distance of about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers, or 3.1 times
the distance from Earth to the moon), has its own small moon.

The 20 individual images used in the movie were generated from data collected
at Goldstone on Jan. 26, 2015. They show the primary body is approximately
1,100 feet (325 meters) across and has a small moon approximately 230
feet (70 meters) across. In the near-Earth population, about 16 percent
of asteroids that are about 655 feet (200 meters) or larger are a binary
(the primary asteroid with a smaller asteroid moon orbiting it) or even
triple systems (two moons). The resolution on the radar images is 13 feet
(4 meters) per pixel.

The trajectory of asteroid 2004 BL86 is well understood. Monday's flyby
was the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth for at least
the next two centuries. It is also the closest a known asteroid this size
will come to Earth until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past our planet in 2027.

Asteroid 2004 BL86 was discovered on Jan. 30, 2004, by the Lincoln Near-Earth
Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey in White Sands, New Mexico.

Radar is a powerful technique for studying an asteroid's size, shape,
rotation state, surface features and surface roughness, and for improving
the calculation of asteroid orbits. Radar measurements of asteroid distances
and velocities often enable computation of asteroid orbits much further
into the future than if radar observations weren't available.

NASA places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home
planet from them. In fact, the U.S. has the most robust and productive
survey and detection program for discovering near-Earth objects (NEOs).
To date, U.S. assets have discovered over 98 percent of the known NEOs.

In addition to the resources NASA puts into understanding asteroids, it
also partners with other U.S. government agencies, university-based astronomers,
and space science institutes across the country, often with grants, interagency
transfers and other contracts from NASA, and also with international space
agencies and institutions that are working to track and better understand
these objects.

NASA's Near-Earth Object Program at NASA Headquarters, Washington, manages
and funds the search, study and monitoring of asteroids and comets whose
orbits periodically bring them close to Earth. JPL manages the Near-Earth
Object Program Office for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

In 2016, NASA will launch a robotic probe to one of the most potentially
hazardous of the known NEOs. The OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid (101955)
Bennu will be a pathfinder for future spacecraft designed to perform reconnaissance
on any newly discovered threatening objects. Aside from monitoring potential
threats, the study of asteroids and comets enables a valuable opportunity
to learn more about the origins of our solar system, the source of water
on Earth, and even the origin of organic molecules that led to the development
of life.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will provide
overall mission management, systems engineering, and safety and mission
assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will
build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers
Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages
New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

NASA also continues to advance the journey to Mars through progress on
the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which will test a number of new capabilities
needed for future human expeditions to deep space, including to Mars.
This includes advanced Solar Electric Propulsion -- an efficient way to
move heavy cargo using solar power, which could help pre-position cargo
for future human missions to the Red Planet. As part of ARM, a robotic
spacecraft will rendezvous with a near-Earth asteroid and redirect an
asteroid mass to a stable orbit around the moon. Astronauts will explore
the asteroid mass in the 2020's, helping test modern spaceflight capabilities
like new spacesuits and sample return techniques. Astronauts at NASA's
Johnson Space Center in Houston have already begun to practice the capabilities
needed for the mission.

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is available at:

http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch

and via Twitter at


More information about asteroid radar research is at:


More information about the Deep Space Network is at:


For more information about the OSIRIS-REx mission, visit:



Media Contact

DC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
agle at jpl.nasa.gov
Received on Mon 26 Jan 2015 05:37:54 PM PST

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