Mile-Wide Asteroid Grazes Planet Earth; Civilization Spared As NASA Camera Captures Fly-By [PHOTOS]

By Danny Choy on November 7, 2012 10:14 PM EST

Asteroid 2007 PA8
Asteroid 2007 PA8 (Photo: Goldstone Radar Images)

From October 28 and October 30, Asteroid 2007 PA8 whizzed past Earth at a distance of just over 5.6 million miles. While this may sound quite far away from us, it is actually alarming close in proximity considering the vastness of space.

NASA's 70-meter Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California, was able to capture and study the asteroid's trajectory and by November 5, scientists determined that the asteroid hurled past at a distance of just 4 million miles. With a massive elongated shape of at least one-mile in length, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory described the rock's features including irregular shapes, ridges, and craters. Its rotational pattern was a rather slow rotation of just once every three to four days.

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There are three 70-meter antennas used to triangulate the location of extraterrestrial objects, the other two installations being Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex of Spain and the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex of Australia. Incredibly, Goldstone's Deep Space Network antenna was able to locate and identify the asteroid without the assistance of the other two antenna positions.

While Asteroid 2007 PA8's flyby has got the the organization buzzing with enthusiasm, scientists assure us that the asteroid will not pass this close to Earth for at least another 200 years. What's more, should the asteroid get close enough to enter into our gravitational pull 200 years from now, humankind would have benefited from two centuries of exponential technology advances that should be capable of deflecting the mile-wide asteroid. We hope.

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