Asteroid 2024 MK passes closer to Earth than the Moon

Asteroid 2024 MK passes closer to Earth than the Moon
Asteroid 2024 MK passes closer to Earth than the Moon

Recently, asteroid 2024 MK approached Earth at a distance smaller than that between our planet and the Moon.

The passage of 2024 MK near Earth was observed by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the United States.

2024 MK’s closest approach was recorded on June 29, with a minimum distance from Earth of just about 295,000 kilometers, or just over three-quarters of the distance between the Moon and Earth.

The existence of 2024 MK was discovered just 13 days before that date.

This asteroid measures about 150 meters, and appears to be elongated, with some flat regions and others rounded.

For these observations, the scientists used a radar antenna from NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN). The antenna in question was the DSS-14 (Deep Space Station 14), 70 metres in diameter, located near Barstow, California, USA.

Specifically, they used the DSS-14 to send radio waves to the star, but they used the DSS-13 antenna, 34 meters in diameter, to receive the signal that bounced off the surface of the asteroid and returned to Earth. The result of this radar observation is a detailed image of the asteroid’s surface, revealing hollows, ridges and rocks, with a level of detail of up to about 10 meters.

Although it is classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid, calculations of its future motion show that it does not pose a threat to our planet in the foreseeable future.

Images of asteroid 2024 MK captured at different times by NASA’s Deep Space Network’s DSS-13 antenna, from signals bounced off the surface of the asteroid after being transmitted by another antenna, DSS-14. (Images: NASA JPL / Caltech)

Asteroid 2024 MK was first reported discovered on June 16. The detection was made using the NASA-funded Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) at the Sutherland Observatory Station in South Africa.

The orbit of 2024 MK around the Sun was modified by Earth’s gravity as it passed close to the Sun. The result of this modification is a reduction of about 24 days in the 3.3-year orbital period of this star.

On June 27, another asteroid passed close to Earth, although not as close as 2024 MK. This asteroid was 2011 UL21 and its closest approach was 6.6 million kilometers, or about 17 times the distance between the Moon and Earth.

As the first part of its name suggests, 2011 UL21 was discovered in 2011 by the Catalina Sky Survey in Tucson, Arizona, United States. The network is funded by NASA.

June 27 marked the first time that 2011 UL21 came close enough to Earth to be picked up clearly by radar. Although the 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) object is classified as potentially hazardous due to its size and the closeness it can pass to Earth, calculations of its future orbits show that it will not pose a collision threat to our planet in the foreseeable future.

Using DSS-14, JPL scientists transmitted radio waves to 2011 UL21 and received signals reflected off the asteroid’s surface using the same antenna.

In addition to determining that the asteroid is approximately spherical, they discovered that it is a binary system… A smaller asteroid orbits it at a distance of about 3 kilometers. (Source: NCYT de Amazings)

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