“Wrong” asteroid flew at the closest distance in 400 years from Earth

The SD220 asteroid, which is notable for its unusual rotation around its own axis, swept on Saturday at a distance of about 2.9 million km from Earth. As the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) informed, the SD220 has passed at the closest distance from our planet over the past 400 years.

On December 15-17, NASA received detailed pictures of the asteroid, which made it possible to correct the knowledge of scientists about this celestial body. Observations on him these days were conducted from the US Goldstone space department in California with a telescope in West Virginia and from Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The photographs obtained are 20 times clearer than photographs of the same object, taken during its rapprochement with the Earth three years ago. The SD220, 1.6 km long, with its outlines resembles a hippopotamus standing in water.

Asteroid is notable for two parameters. Its rotation period around its own axis is 12 days, which is very slow for an asteroid, NASA notes. In addition, the appeal itself is atypical.

“Images obtained with the help of radar reach an unprecedented level of detail and are comparable with images of objects made by a spacecraft at close range,” said Lance Benner from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “The most remarkable feature of the surface is the scar, half crossing one of the asteroid’s ends. The furrow stretches for about 100 m. Numerous bright bright spots are visible in the images and can be a reflection of boulders,” the scientist explained, also drawing attention to the possible presence of craters on the SD220.

This celestial body was discovered on September 29, 2003 by astronomers at the NASA observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, which has now ceased to exist. Experts have qualified the SD220 as a potentially dangerous object due to its size and ability to approach the Earth’s orbit. New data, however, generally exclude the possibility of this asteroid colliding with our planet in the future.