Awesome New Radar Images of Asteroid 2004 BL86

New video of 2004 BL86 and its moon

Newly processed images of asteroid 2004 BL86 during it brush with Earth Monday night reveal fresh details of its lumpy surface and orbiting moon. We’ve learned from both optical and radar data that Alpha, the main body, spins once every 2.6 hours. Beta (the moon) spins more slowly.

The images were made by bouncing radio waves off the surface of the bodies using NASA’s 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif. Radar “pinging” reveals information about the shape, velocity, rotation rate and surface features of close-approaching asteroids. But the resulting images can be confusing to interpret because they’re not photos in the normal sense. (…)
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© Bob King for Universe Today, 2015. |
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