Close encounter with asteroid 2024 MK: a detailed NASA report

NASA's powerful technological instruments have "immortalized" two asteroids that passed very close to Earth in recent days: here are the surprising images

A rare celestial event

As previously announced, Earth experienced a “close encounter” with asteroid 2024 MK on June 29, 2024. Such close approaches are relatively rare, occurring on average every two decades, making these observation opportunities particularly valuable.

Astronomy enthusiasts from around the globe marveled at the spectacular event through telescopes or via live streaming.

The asteroids: 2024 MK and 2011 UL21

A week after the remarkable event, images of asteroids 2024 MK and 2011 UL21 (which passed approximately 183,000 miles from Earth on June 27) have been released. These were captured by the Goldstone Solar System Radar, part of NASA’s Deep Space Network.

The images

Asteroid 2024 MK, with a diameter of 492 feet, was recently discovered and reached its closest point to Earth on June 29, 2024, passing at about 183,000 miles. NASA experts used the Goldstone solar system radar, with the Deep Space Station 14 (DSS-14) and DSS-13 antennas, to transmit and receive radio waves from the asteroid.

Observations revealed that 2024 MK has an elongated, angular shape with surface features such as concavities, ridges, and boulders around 33 feet in size.



In contrast, asteroid 2011 UL21, which is nearly 0.9 miles wide, was first observed by radar during its close approach on June 27. Discovered in 2011 by the Catalina Sky Survey, this asteroid is classified as potentially hazardous. However, recent calculations of its future orbits indicate it poses no immediate threat to Earth.

Valuable data and future preparedness

The recent observations from the Goldstone Solar System Radar have provided significant data on asteroids 2024 MK and 2011 UL21, enhancing our understanding of their physical characteristics and orbits. These efforts offer valuable practice for future planetary defense operations.

Supported by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program and the Planetary Defense Coordination Office, in collaboration with the Deep Space Network, these observations are crucial for improving our preparedness and response to potential future threats, ensuring effective protection for our planet.

Source: NASA

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