New asteroid radar images


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near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220

Cool radar images! The set of radar images above of near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 were created by combining radar data from three different radar telescopes on Earth, Arecibo in Puerto Rico, Green Bank in West Virginia, and Goldstone in California. As the press release notes:

The asteroid will fly safely past Earth on Saturday, Dec. 22, at a distance of about 1.8 million miles (2.9 million kilometers). This will be the asteroid’s closest approach in more than 400 years and the closest until 2070, when the asteroid will safely approach Earth slightly closer.

The radar images reveal an asteroid with a length of at least one mile (1.6 kilometers) and a shape similar to that of the exposed portion of a hippopotamus wading in a river.

The images have a resolution of 12 feet per pixel, so a close look should be able to reveal any large boulders, should they exist. Instead, I see a soft surface that to me resembles the surface of a sand dune, floating unattached to anything in space.

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3 comments

  • fred k

    Whoa!

    I thought the supposed 10:1 geometry of Omuamua, derived from the observed light curve had to be due to something other than the geometry.

    But look at this. Direct visual imagery of an celestial body that’s roughly 10:1.

  • Daniel Kaczynski

    Obviously it must be an evil Zorgon battle cruiser. They are scanning us with their sensors
    to determine our weaknesses and formulate their battle plan. Then they will destroy the
    Earth and turn us all into meat pies.

    Unless all that talk that Omuamua “can’t!” be a natural object because it is so elongated
    is just a bunch of twaddle and in fact elongated asteroids are common as dirt.
    ( Oooops. I mean, common as loosely gravitationally bound piles of regolith.)

    It does rather look like a hippopotamus. Perhaps instead of calling it “2003 SD220” we
    should indeed call it “the hippopotamus.”

  • eddie willers

    The middle one looks like an amphora.

    Romans imported Martian olive oil.

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