Radar Reveals Asteroid 1998 QE2 Has A Moon!

Radar images taken by the JPL’s Goldstone radar antenna were stacked to create this video of 1998 QE2 and its new moon

Radar images made on May 29, 2013, when the Earth-approaching asteroid 1998 QE2 was about 3.75 million miles (6 million km) from Earth show a bright moon circling papa. The pictures also reveal several large, crater-like concavities in the main asteroid.

Main belt asteroid Ida is trailed by its dog-like companion Dactyl. Inset shows an enlargement of the moonlet. Credit: NASA

Binary asteroids are somewhat uncommon but not rare. To date we know of 230 with companions, nine of which are triple systems. About 16% of asteroids 655 feet (200 m) or larger are binary. One of the most famous is the pair of Ida and Dactyl discovered in images taken during Galileo space probe flyby in August 1993. Ida’s about 34 miles (54 km) across and its wee follower Dactyl only 4,600 feet wide (1.4 km).

A still frame from the video shows the moonlet as well as several dark crater-like features on 1998 QE2. Credit: NASA

The preliminary estimate for the size of the asteroid’s satellite, or moon, is
about 2,000 feet (600 meters) wide. It’s “papa” is 1.7 miles (2.7 km) end to end.

2 Responses

  1. Baha2012

    Not only do this classified asteroid seem to hold a near full sphere shape … but I’m reminded of an old star wars saying … “that’s no moon, that’s a base station !” and for the celestial/alien minded having considered advance technology controlling much of what we see as reality … once an object comes into the solar system’s field of illusion, that object will appear to be any corresponding thing the illusion field is program to cast … so the visiting object could very well be a domicile space craft of some kind … Here’s looking at you kid : )

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