The asteroid, known as 2004 BL86, will fly by Earth but will not affect us in any way, nor will it affect the orbiting satellites or the International Space Station. The asteroid will be in a very good position for NASA scientists to study it closely.
Astronomers say that the asteroid will be at approximately 745,000 miles away from our planet at its nearest point. That means about three times the distance from our planet to the moon.
Don Yeomans, the manager for NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office, said that on January 26, the asteroid known as 2004 BL86 will be the closest asteroid to fly by Earth at such distance for at least another 200 years.
Yeomans added that the asteroid will not pose any threat to Earth, but it will provide a perfect opportunity for scientists to observe it and study it closely. The asteroid was first discovered in 2004 and is about 1700 feet in size.
Amateur astronomers who are waiting to see the asteroid passing by Earth may not be able to get a good look at it using binoculars or small telescopes, NASA scientists say.
NASA will use the Deep Space Network antenna and the Arecibo Observatory located in Puerto Rico to study the asteroid.
Lance Benner, a radar astronomer, said that after the asteroid passes Earth, the researchers will have very detailed images of it. At the moment, there isn’t too much information about the asteroid and Benner added that there could be some surprises.
Scientists find asteroids fascinating because they believe asteroids are responsible for bringing water to Earth. Yomans is hoping that in the future the scientists will be able to explore the asteroids for natural resources.
Yeomans said that he is very excited to see the asteroid because they are very special.
In 2019 NASA is schedule to launch a spacecraft that will be able to catch an asteroid and move it into the orbit around the moon to study it.
Image Source: berliner-kurier