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First Images of Near Earth Asteroid 2007 TU24

Radar Image of Asteroid 2007 TU24.  Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
In case you had any doubts, it’s now official: Asteroid 2007 TU 24 will not impact or have any affect on Earth. Astronomers have obtained the first images of the near earth asteroid using high-resolution radar data. “With these first radar observations finished, we can guarantee that next week’s 1.4-lunar-distance approach is the closest until at least the end of the next century,” said Steve Ostro, Jet Propulsion Laboratoy astronomer and principal investigator for the project. “It is also the asteroid’s closest Earth approach for more than 2,000 years.”

The radar images indicate the asteroid is somewhat asymmetrical in shape, with a diameter roughly 250 meters (800 feet) in size. Asteroid 2007 TU24 will pass within 1.4 lunar distances, or 538,000 kilometers (334,000 miles), of Earth on Jan. 29 at 12:33 a.m. Pacific time (3:33 a.m. Eastern time). So, while this image is pretty faint, (about 20 meters per pixel) as the asteroid gets closer, NASA will be able to obtain better images and more details about the object.

And just to repeat for anyone who still has any doubts, the scientists at NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at JPL have determined that there is no possibility of an impact with Earth in the foreseeable future.

Asteroid 2007 TU24 was discovered by NASA Oct. 11, 2007. The asteroid should be visible to amateur astronomers using 3 inch (7.6 centimeter) telescopes. It will be brightest on January 29-30, reaching an approximate apparent magnitude of 10.3, and then become fainter as it moves farther from Earth. Anyone looking for the asteroid with amateur telescopes will need dark and clear skies. An object with a magnitude of 10.3 is about 50 times fainter than an object just visible to the naked eye in a clear, dark sky.

NASA detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth. The Near Earth Object Observation Program, commonly called “Spaceguard,” discovers, characterizes and computes trajectories for these objects to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet. They use several different tracking devices including the Goldstone’s 70-meter diameter (230-foot) antenna that is capable of tracking a spacecraft traveling more than 16 billion kilometers (10 billion miles) from Earth.

Ostro and his team plan further radar observations of asteroid 2007 TU24 using the National Science Foundation’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico on Jan. 27-28 and Feb. 1-4.

Original News Source: JPL Press Release

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Susan January 29, 2008, 12:22 AM

    I’m glad I stayed up to see the first images of TU24 come in. I’ve been watching it since it was first announced to the public on the web and it’s been fascinating.

    As much as I have to admit some mild worry about it’s close approach, I think this fascination was enough to outdo any fear.

    I have to say though….with the short time that we had from discovery to its passing, it does make you wonder just how quickly a disaster could happen.

    I think it’s enough to open anyone’s eyes! Maybe we should quit worrying about wars with foreign countries and dedicate more funding to space research? Sounds more sensible to me. Oil and feuding over religious beliefs and land doesn’t mean a damn thing in light of something like that.

  • Mohammed January 29, 2008, 11:01 PM

    This is the first time I ever experinced such a beauty, it is a sign of nature, god has shown us how close we were to death and how can he take our lives just by sending an asteriod, I could see it with a naked eye.

    As Susan said we should invest our fundings in Space research rather than for wars thats quite sensible I would say rather that…..

  • Jerald Semar January 30, 2008, 12:49 PM

    Can you hear me now? When I was a child…I thought as a child…but, now it’s time to put away childish things. What a wake-up call..I hope the world has it’s ears on and starts to behave more seemly..we need to bond together to protect our planet..not rip it apart.

  • patricia February 1, 2008, 12:49 AM

    I have to agree with all those comments but hopefully the world could realize all this one day it’s just a waste putting money into war instead the money should go to space research and protect the planet and us GOD PLEASE MAKE THINGS BETTER

  • M. Van Austin February 8, 2008, 7:38 PM

    I guess JPL’s Steve Ostro never heard of CT-1- 2008 when he made his guarantee.

  • alphonso richardson February 11, 2008, 7:51 AM

    So just WHO was that numpty making those wild claims about extintion level events with this thing? Was he/she some sort of crank? Was it a hoax or some attention – seeking nutter bent on winding people up?

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