An asteroid is going to be passing very close to Earth this week. What information will astronomers and scientists be able to glean from this rare occasion?
Quite a bit, according to experts.
The asteroid, named 2005 YU55, is believed to be in the class of objects whose organic compounds helped form the earth, according to the Christian Science Monitor. It is rare that scientists get a chance to study these types of objects, so they're going all out to get as much information as possible from it.
We are hitting it with everything we can, says Dr. Joushua Emery, a member of a team led by the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Nicholas Moskovit, to the CSM. Emery and his team have five telescopes around the world set up to observe the asteroid.
One thing that doesn't need to be worried about is the possibility of the asteroid striking earth, NASA officials say.
2005 YU55 cannot hit Earth, at least over the interval that we can compute the motion reliably, which extends for several hundred years, scienteist Lance Bennersaid in a recent NASA video according to Fox News.
If an object of this size were to hit earth, it would cause substantial probelems. the CSM said. It could create a miles wide crater or cause dangerous tsunami's if it landed in the ocean.
One reason the asteroid has such strong research potential, the CSM reported, is that it is small enough that it may be free of dust. A lack of dust would make it easier for scientists to see the compounds the object is made of, thus making it more useful in determining how these compounds contributed to earth.