Asteroid 2005 YU55 is scheduled to make its closest approach to Earth today at 3:28 p.m. PST (6:28 p.m. EST/1128 UTC). NASA released photos of the approaching mass taken Nov. 7 at 11:45 a.m. PST by its 70-meter Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California. At the time, the asteroid was approximately 860,000 miles from Earth, but it is closing the distance at a dizzying rate of approximately 11 miles per second. At closest approach, it will only be a scant 201,700 miles from Earth, closer to us than the Moon.
At 400 yards across, 2005 YU55 would be capable of causing regional devastation if it were to make contact with Earth. However, astronomers are quick to reassure the public that it will pass the planet by, leaving both it and us unscathed by the close encounter. NASA satellites in California and Puerto Rico are eagerly capitalizing upon the asteroid's proximal trajectory, however; the agency began tracking the asteroid at 9:30 A.M. on November 4 using the Goldstone antenna in California, while complementary radar observations began today at the 1,000-foot diameter telescope at the Arecibo Planetary Radar Facility in Puerto Rico. The data collected by both these facilities working in concert will hopefully give us even better photos than the we see here.
For those interested in watching a live feed of the flyby, the SLOOH robotic observatory on the Canary Islands will be hosting a webcast today here.