Basic Astronomy

Earth Passing Asteroid 1998 QE2 Has a Moon

1 June 2013: NASA radar image confirms presence of a small moon around Earth passing Asteroid 1998 QE2. The radar image from 70-meter Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California discovered a binary companion of Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) 1998 QE2 when it was flying close to the Earth. The size of 1998 QE2 is 2.7 kilometers and the size of the newly found orbiting moon is about 600 meters in diameter.

Asteroid <a href=>1998 QE2</a>
Radar images of Asteroid 1998 QE2 with its binary companion. Image credit: NASA.

The radar images shown were taken were taken on May 29, 2013, when the asteroid was about 6 million kilometers away from Earth.

NASA scientist informed that about 16 percent of asteroids are binary and some of them are even triple systems.

Scientists also found evidences that several radar-dark features are present in the radar image, which may be cavities or impact craters.

1998 QE2 flew away 5.86 million km from the Earth on 31st May 2013 at 20:59 UT. This was the closest approach of the asteroid for this century.

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