Time to look up in the sky, as the end of May sees a large asteroid whizzing by Earth.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in La Caņada Flintridge reports they are keeping an eye out for an asteroid reportedly 1.7 miles long, one big enough that it could have cause the dinosaurs' extinction (if it ever connected with the planet).The Asteroid 1998 QE2 will make its closest pass to Earth on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. PDT.
Scientists describe the sooty substance on its surface as akin to the thick carbon-y gunk in your barbecue. The name of this asteroid should be the Memorial Day Weekend Barber-roid.
The scientists will be watching for this one from a Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif., and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
Astronomers at both observatories plan to track it closely from May 30 to June 9, according to a JPL press release.
At its closest approach the asteroid will still be 3.6 million miles from our planet (about 15 times the distance between the Earth and the moon), but it will be close enough for these powerful radar antennas to see features as small as 12 feet across.
"With radar we can transform an object from a point of light into a small world with its own characteristics," Lance Benner, JPL's principal investigator for Goldstone radar observations, said in a statement.
There is no chance that asteroid 1998 QE2 could collide with Earth this go-around, and its next close approach won't be until 2119.