It's time to get ready for another interplanetary object encounter as NASA has confirmed that a very dark, nearly globular asteroid will pass between Earth and the moon later this year.
Dubbed as 2005 YU55, the almost round asteroid is 400 meters in size. Although it has been classified as a "potentially hazardous object," NASA says it poses no threat of an Earth collision over the next 100 years.
The 2005 YU55 was discovered by Robert McMillan of the Spacewatch Program near Tucson, Ariz., Dec. 28, 2005. The object was then observed by Mike Nolan, Ellen Howell and colleagues with the Arecibo, P.R., radar on April 19-21, 2010, and shown to be a very dark, nearly spherical object 400 meters in diameter. According to NASA scientists, it will pass Earth within 0.85 lunar distances on Nov. 8.
"This will be the closest approach to date by an object this large that we know about in advance, and an event of this type will not happen again until 2028 when asteroid (153814) 2001 WN5 will pass to within 0.6 lunar distances," NASA said.
Scientists said that on Nov. 8 and 9, the object will reach a visual brightness of 11th magnitude and should be easily visible to observers in both hemispheres.
The 2005 YU55 has a rotation period of approximately 20 hours. Since it will approach Earth from the sunward direction, it will be a daylight object until the time of closest approach, scientists said.
Meanwhile, scientists are also working on another mission to counteract a potential asteroid collision. They will be trying to change the course of 99942 Apophis asteroid headed for Earth.
Under the mission, named Don Quijote, the European Space Agency will fire an "impactor" satellite into a "test" asteroid in 2015 to see whether the object's path can be altered. The 1,600-foot-wide asteroid, however, poses minimal threat, a one-in-250,000 chance of hitting Earth in 2036, the Daily Mail reported.