Unusual Properties of Potentially Hazardous Asteroid Surprise Scientists During Recent Flyby

Astronomers recently had a chance to observe the "potentially hazardous" asteroid 2011 AG5 as it passed safely by Earth. The asteroid's unusual properties surprised scientists, including its elongated shape and slow rotation. The asteroid, which was discovered in 2011, made headlines due to predictions that it could collide with Earth in 2040. However, further observations showed that the asteroid's orbit had been miscalculated, and it poses no real threat to our planet.

An Unusually Elongated Space Rock

During the asteroid's recent flyby, scientists were able to use NASA's Deep Space Network facility in California to take powerful radar scans of the space rock. The images revealed that 2011 AG5 is 1,600 feet long and about 500 feet wide, making it the size of the Empire State Building. The scans also showed that the asteroid is unusually elongated, which is a rare property for an asteroid.

A Slow Rotation

In addition to its elongated shape, the asteroid also rotates much more slowly than expected. It takes around 9 hours for the oblong object to complete a single rotation, which is much longer than most asteroids. Scientists believe that the asteroid's slow rotation may be influenced by its unusual shape, but they are unsure of the exact reason for this property.

Surface Features and Trajectory

The radar scans also revealed subtle dark and lighter patches on the asteroid's surface, which could indicate the presence of multiple small-scale surface features. However, scientists are unsure of what these features might be. The additional data collected by the scans could help scientists narrow down the asteroid's trajectory in the future, which may explain its unusual properties.

A Potentially Hazardous Asteroid

Although 2011 AG5 will not collide with Earth, it is still considered a "potentially hazardous asteroid" because it will pass within 670,000 miles of our planet during its next flyby in 2040. NASA classifies any asteroid that passes within 4.7 million miles of Earth as potentially hazardous, so it is important to monitor them closely. The new data collected by scientists during the asteroid's recent flyby will help increase our understanding of this unusual space rock.

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