Spinning through space at 30,000mph, with enough potential energy to wipe out a city the size of London, the poetically named 2005 YU55 asteroid was at one point closer to Earth than the moon.
With a length longer than four football pitches, this potentially perilous piece of space-rock had the attention of astronomers across the world late last Tuesday evening.
The Herschel Space Observatory in particular was being used to help determine its temperature and composition. With the help of the most technologically advanced radars, we can build 3-D representations of the asteroid and determine where it will be for centuries to come, so no need to worry just yet.
Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said of the asteroid, “The close Earth approach of 2005 YU55 on Nov. 8, is unusual since it is close and big. On average, one wouldn’t expect an object this big to pass this close but every 30 years”.
For those hoping to catch a glimpse of 2005 YU55, you’ll be in for a long wait…thirty years to be precise, as it won’t return to Earth until 2041; however we only have to wait until 2028 for the next large asteroid to fly past our planet.