Researcher at NASA found that the asteroid that will cruise past Earth on Halloween October 31 may in fact be a comet.
Asteroid 2015 TB145, called by some astronomers ‘Spooky’, is about 1,300 feet (400 meters) wide, and will zoom past Earth on October 31 at approximately 300,000 miles (480,000 kilometres) from our planet. To put that into perspective it would be 1.3 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.
2015 TB145 will not pose a threat to our planet, but is will mark one of Earth’s closest encounters with such a massive space rock. According to NASA officials, a similar encounter will occur in 2027 when asteroid 1999 AN10 – which is about 2,600 feet (800 metres) wide – will fly by Earth within a distance of about 238,000 miles (385,000 kilometres). That is approximately one Earth-moon distance.
Using an antenna – that is 110 feet (34 metres) wide – at NASA’s Deep Space Network facility in Goldstone, California, the astronomers will emit radio waves towards asteroid 2015 TB145. The reflected signals will then be collected by scientists using the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.
Astronomers will be able to learn about the shape, size, features or the space rock, as well as the asteroid’s real ‘identity’.
Lance Benner, leader of the asteroid radar research program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that 2015 TB145 has a very oblong orbit with a high inclination to below the plane of the solar system.
“Such a unique orbit, along with its high encounter velocity — about 35 kilometres or 22 miles per second — raises the question of whether it may be some type of comet,” Benner said.
Although 2015 TB145 may not be seen with the naked eye, those interested will be able to watch Spooky online, thanks to the Virtual Telescope Project and the Slooh Community Observatory which shall provide live telescope views.
The Virtual Telescope Project’s broadcast will start at 8 p.m. EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) on October 30 (0000 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) on October 31) and the Slooh Community Observatory will air a webcast at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) on October 31.
Image Source: earthchangesmedia