1.7 Mile long Asteroid Earth Close Flyby May 31, 2013

Asteroid 1998 QE2

Asteroid 1998 QE2 Close Approach Path

A 1.7 mile wide (2.7km) Asteroid will fly by Earth at 20:59 p.m. UTC (4:59pm est), Friday, May 31. The 1998 QE2 asteroid will pass by Earth at a safe distance of about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers) or about fifteen times the distance of the Earth to the Moon. This will be the closest approach for the next two centuries. Not to worry Earth is in no danger of annihilation. The asteroid was discovered Aug. 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Program. You can see a list of other Near Earth Close Approach Objects on this page. This Asteroid is not going to come nearly as close as DA18 which recently passed between the Earth and Moon.

Don’t bother the get out you binoculars or telescope, this asteroid mainly of interest to radar astronomers. Of course if you have a radar dish in your back yard go for it! “Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be an outstanding radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo and we expect to obtain a series of high-resolution images that could reveal a wealth of surface features,” said radar astronomer Lance Benner, the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin. We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid’s distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise.”

NASA is hosting several events related to this event:

Thursday, May 30

— 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. PDT (1:30 to 2:30 p.m. EDT): NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will show on NASA Television live telescope images of the asteroid and host a discussion with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and experts from JPL and the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex. Scientists at Goldstone will be using radar to track and image the asteroid.

The event also will be streamed live on the agency’s website at: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv . It will also be available on Ustream.tv with live chat capability at: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2 .

Viewers may submit questions in advance to @AsteroidWatch on Twitter with the hashtag #asteroidQE2.

— 5 to 7 p.m. PDT (8 to 10 p.m. EDT): Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will host an online chat at:
http://www.nasa.gov/chat .

Friday, May 31

— 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. PDT (2 to 3 p.m. EDT), NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will participate in a White House “We the Geeks” Google+ Hangout. Participants will discuss asteroid identification, characterization, resource utilization and hazard mitigation. The hangout can be viewed at the White House website at:
https://plus.google.com/+whitehouse/posts

About the author

Recipient of many prestigious NASA Awards including the Exceptional Public Service Medal and the Robert H. Goddard award. Experience includes working for NASA, as a contractor, in satellite design, construction and operations. Expert in the satellite operations concepts and ground systems including command, control, and science data processing.