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Hippo-shaped asteroid skims safely past Earth


Posted on Monday, 24 December, 2018 | Comment icon 10 comments

The asteroid has a distinctive shape. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR/NSF/GBO
A mile-long asteroid shaped a bit like a hippopotamus has skipped us by on its closest approach in 400 years.
The unusually shaped space rock, which had been described as 'potentially hazardous', sailed past our planet on Saturday at a distance of 1.8 million miles.

Known as asteroid 2003 SD220, it is set to pass even closer still in the year 2070.

Remarkably clear radar images have given scientists the opportunity to study the object up close.

"The radar images achieve an unprecedented level of detail and are comparable to those obtained from a spacecraft flyby," said Lance Benner of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

"The most conspicuous surface feature is a prominent ridge that appears to wrap partway around the asteroid near one end."

"The ridge extends about 330 feet (100 metres) above the surrounding terrain. Numerous small bright spots are visible in the data and may be reflections from boulders."

"The images also show a cluster of dark, circular features near the right edge that may be craters."

Source: Independent | Comments (10)

Tags: Asteroid, Hippo

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by seanjo on 23 December, 2018, 0:05
Anyone else seeing the Star Child in the first image?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Not A Rockstar on 23 December, 2018, 0:16
I was wondering if the surface is all dusty like the one landed on earlier this year or if it had all blown off and was smooth rocky ice. Yeah I can see a profile on the first pic now you mention it. That is cute. Like spotting forms in the clouds  
Comment icon #3 Posted by Not A Rockstar on 23 December, 2018, 0:35
"Anyone else seeing the Star Child in the first image?" @seanjo  wait, is this something going the rounds or were you just talking silly for a minute that it looked like a baby profile? That ain't no star child in there if you weren't joking and someone thinks so.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 23 December, 2018, 0:43
I think you'll find that he is referencing the first image which looks like the profile of a baby's face. It's reminiscent of the star child from 2001 A Space Odyssey. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Grey Area on 23 December, 2018, 8:27
I thought it looked more like Hanky the Christmas poo to be honest.
Comment icon #6 Posted by seanjo on 23 December, 2018, 8:48
Yup, no conspiracy, just an off the cuff observation.
Comment icon #7 Posted by seanjo on 23 December, 2018, 8:51
LOL. I took the high ground  (which is unlike me) and resisted that observation.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 on 25 December, 2018, 1:33
H I P P O P O T A M U S
Comment icon #9 Posted by qxcontinuum on 31 December, 2018, 6:44
So wouldn't it look like omoumomma?
Comment icon #10 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 31 December, 2018, 10:23
I take it you mean 'Oumuamua? Why would a near Earth asteroid look like an interstellar comet?


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