• Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
11/08/2011 08:00:00

Asteroid Will Safely Fly Past Earth Today at a Distance Closer Than the Moon

An aircraft-carrier sized asteroid known as 2005 YU55 is expected to safely fly past Earth this afternoon at a distance slightly closer than the moon's orbit.

Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have been tracking the asteroid using the Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, California. At its closest approach to our planet, at 3:28 p.m. PST, 2005 YU55 will be no closer than 324,600 kilometers (201,700 miles) as measured from the center of Earth. Still, today's approach will be the closest of a space rock of this size since 1976, and it offers scientists a rare opportunity to observe a nearby asteroid.

To see new radar images of the asteroid captured by NASA's Deep Space Network antenna, click here. For a full release from JPL, click here.

Written by Kimm Fesenmaier