Radar Image Shows Asteroid 1998 QE2 has a Moon

Asteroid 1998 QE2 and it's Moon

Asteroid 1998 QE2 and it’s Moon. Small White dot on lower right is the moon.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR

As reported here the 1.7 mile wide (2.7km) Asteroid 1998 QE2 will fly by Earth at 20:59 p.m. UTC (4:59pm est), Friday, May 31. The 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 200 years. On May 29th radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2 were obtained by NASA scientists on the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Californoa. This was when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth (15.6 lunar distances). The images show that the asteroid was not alone but had a moon of it’s own. The celestial partner is about 2,000 feet (600 meters) wide. The radar collage above covers a little bit more than two hours. This is rare but not totally unusual. About sixteen percent of asteroids over 655 feet have one ore even two moons. The resolution of this image is about 250 feet per pixel. This will improve as more data comes in and we can expect higher resolution images.