[meteorite-list] Asteroid 2004 BL86 to Fly By Earth Safely on January 26

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2015 16:59:48 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <201501140059.t0E0xn8p026894_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Asteroid to Fly By Earth Safely on January 26
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
January 13, 2015

An asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, will safely pass about three times
the distance of Earth to the moon on January 26. From its reflected brightness,
astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about a third of a mile (0.5
kilometers) in size. The flyby of 2004 BL86 will be the closest by any
known space rock this large until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past Earth
in 2027.

At the time of its closest approach on January 26, the asteroid will be
approximately 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Earth.

"Monday, January 26 will be the closest asteroid 2004 BL86 will get to
Earth for at least the next 200 years," said Don Yeomans, who is retiring
as manager of NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, California, after 16 years in the position. "And
while it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it's a relatively
close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique
opportunity to observe and learn more."

One way NASA scientists plan to learn more about 2004 BL86 is to observe
it with microwaves (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2006-00a
). NASA's Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, and the
Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will attempt to acquire science data
and radar-generated images of the asteroid during the days surrounding
its closest approach to Earth.

"When we get our radar data back the day after the flyby, we will have
the first detailed images," said radar astronomer Lance Benner of JPL,
the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations of the
asteroid. "At present, we know almost nothing about the asteroid, so there
are bound to be surprises."

Asteroid 2004 BL86 was initially discovered on Jan. 30, 2004 by a telescope
of the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey in White Sands,
New Mexico.

The asteroid is expected to be observable to amateur astronomers with
small telescopes and strong binoculars.

"I may grab my favorite binoculars and give it a shot myself," said Yeomans.
"Asteroids are something special. Not only did asteroids provide Earth
with the building blocks of life and much of its water, but in the future,
they will become valuable resources for mineral ores and other vital natural
resources. They will also become the fueling stops for humanity as we
continue to explore our solar system. There is something about asteroids
that makes me want to look up."

NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office is experiencing its first transition
in leadership since it was formed almost 17 years ago. On Jan. 9, after
a 39-year-long career at JPL, Yeomans retired. Paul Chodas, a long-time
member of Yeomans' team at JPL, has been designated as the new manager.

NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets using both
ground- and space-based telescopes. Elements of the Near-Earth Object
Program, often referred to as "Spaceguard," discover these objects, characterize
a subset of them and identify their close approaches to determine if any
could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA's Science Mission
Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute
of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is at:


To get updates on passing space rocks, follow:


Media Contact

DC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
agle at jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown at nasa.gov

Received on Tue 13 Jan 2015 07:59:48 PM PST

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