The U.S. space agency, NASA, says an asteroid measuring 400 meters (1,312 feet) in diameter will pass the Earth within the orbit of the moon in November, giving scientists their best opportunity so far to closely observe a space rock this large.
Asteroid 2005 YU55 is classified as a potentially hazardous Near-Earth Object, but NASA says it poses no threat for at least the next 100 years. Astronomers say the asteroid will fly past the Earth Nov. 8 within a distance of only 326,400 kilometers (202,815 miles). That is 15 percent closer to the planet than the moon.
NASA is eagerly preparing for the asteroid’s approach with plans for a wide variety of radar, visual and infrared observations, including using the radar capabilities at its Deep Space Network facility in Goldstone, California, and the huge Arecibo dish in Puerto Rico.
The space agency says the next known close fly-by to rival asteroid 2005 YU55 will not occur for 17 years, in 2028, when a different asteroid will pass within 230,400 kilometers (143,164 miles) of the Earth.