Watch this NASA video of an asteroid passing near Earth

Toutatis comes 4.3 million miles from our planet, won't be back for 57 years

By  

Not the asteroid Toutatis, but a frightening simulation. Please remain calm.

Source: andrewsrj via Flickr

The asteroid Toutatis this week passed a mere 4.3 million miles from Earth, which is more than close enough for my taste. Large asteroids hitting our planet (Toutatis is about three miles wide) tend to cause minor problems such as the extinction of numerous species and the end of life as we know it.

Toutatis, as Space.com explains, circles the Sun every four years, but it won't come near Earth again until November 2069, when it will fly a mere 1.8 million miles near the Earth.

Fortunately, you don't have to wait until then to get a good look at Toutatis. NASA captured some video of the asteroid on Wednesday and Thursday using solar system radar.

The grainy 64-frame movie shows a giant rock against a black background as the rock rotates in a wobbly fashion. (NASA also explains that in the video, "the rotation of the asteroid appears faster than it occurs in nature" and that "asteroids in mirror are closer than they appear." OK, I made up the second one.)

By the way, if you're wondering what it looks like when an asteroid collides with Earth -- known in scientific circles as an "impact event" -- this website run by Purdue University is worth checking out. It's called Impact Earth, and it allows users to input different data points for a hypothetical asteroid "event," such as the diameter and density of the asteroid, its speed and angle of impact, whether it hits water or land, and your distance from the impact. (Hint: There are no good outcomes.)

The NASA video of Toutatis is below.

Now read this:

Bizarre stuff you never knew about Venus and Mars

The tiny (yet powerful) world of speckled computing

Distracting sounds linked to diminished focus, memory, according to LSU study

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Spotlight on ...
Online Training

    Upgrade your skills and earn higher pay

    Readers to share their best tips for maximizing training dollars and getting the most out self-directed learning. Here’s what they said.

     

    Learn more

Answers - Powered by ITworld

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Ask a Question
randomness