Huge Asteroid's Earth Flyby Caught On Video - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Huge Asteroid's Earth Flyby Caught On Video

Posted: Updated:

YAHOO.COM - A new video captures the giant asteroid 4179 Toutatis tumbling through space on its flyby of Earth earlier this week.

The asteroid Toutatis video, which is about 40 seconds long, combines 64 radar images taken Wednesday and Thursday (Dec. 12 and 13) by NASA's Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif. On those days, Toutatis was about 4.3 million miles (7 million kilometers) from Earth, or about 18 times farther away than the moon is.

The new radar images — which have a resolution of 12 feet (3.75 meters) per pixel — show the 3-mile-wide (5 kilometers) asteroid in striking detail. Toutatis is revealed to be an elongated, irregularly shaped object with multiple ridges, researchers said. Strange bright glints may indicate surface boulders, they added.

The video also sheds light on how Toutatis moves. The asteroid spins about its long axis every 5.4 days and wobbles through space like a badly thrown football, scientists said.

Toutatis never posed a threat to Earth on its recent flyby, and researchers say there is no chance it will hit our planet over the next four centuries or so. (Beyond that time, the asteroid's orbit cannot be accurately computed.)

Nevertheless, the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., lists Toutatis as a potentially hazardous object, meaning that it could pose a risk to Earth at some point in the future.

Toutatis would cause catastrophic damage if it ever did slam into Earth, potentially extinguishing humanity and many other species. In general, scientists think a strike by anything at least 0.6 miles (1 km) wide could have global consequences, most likely by altering the world's climate for many years to come.

For comparison, the asteroid thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was an estimated 6 miles (10 km) across.

Asteroid Toutatis makes one trip around the sun every four years. Its next close encounter with Earth will come in November 2069, when the space rock will fly safely by at about 1.8 million miles (3 million km), or 7.7 Earth-moon distances.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 10 Cheapest Houses For Sale In Spokane

    10 Cheapest Houses For Sale In Spokane

    Wednesday, November 27 2013 2:35 AM EST2013-11-27 07:35:08 GMT
    Whether you are in the market for an affordable place to live or are in the business of flipping houses, here are the 10 cheapest homes for sale in Spokane according to AllSpokaneHomes.com.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Whether you are in the market for an affordable place to live or are in the business of flipping houses, here are the 10 cheapest homes for sale in Spokane according to AllSpokaneHomes.com. Yes, they all need some work and some need a lot more than others, but when your mortgage payment is around the $200/month range there's at least something to stay positive about.>>
  • INCREDIBLE drone video shows fire destruction over Pateros/Brewster

    INCREDIBLE drone video shows fire destruction over Pateros/Brewster

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:51 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:51:52 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Chelan HD Productions has given us permission to show this incredible video they shot with a drone surveying the damage done from the Carlton Complex Fire in the areas of Brewster and Pateros. This video is truly jaw dropping and really shows the level of destruction from the fire.>>
    KHQ.COM - Chelan HD Productions has given us permission to show this incredible video they shot with a drone surveying the damage done from the Carlton Complex Fire in the areas of Brewster and Pateros. This video is truly jaw dropping and really shows the level of destruction from the fire.>>
  • Do you know this person? Suspect still at large in Jitterz coffee stand robbery

    Do you know this person? Suspect still at large in Jitterz coffee stand robbery

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-07-23 21:14:57 GMT
    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Coeur d’Alene Police Detectives and the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force are continuing to investigate the Robbery of The Jitterz coffee stand in the 2800 block of Government Way. The suspect is described as a white male, early 20’s, 5’08”-5’09”, very skinny build, white T-shirt, blue jean shorts.>>
    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Coeur d’Alene Police Detectives and the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force are continuing to investigate the Robbery of The Jitterz coffee stand in the 2800 block of Government Way. The suspect is described as a white male, early 20’s, 5’08”-5’09”, very skinny build, white T-shirt, blue jean shorts.>>