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Green Bank Telescope captures images of ridge, craters on passing asteroid


Charleston Gazette-Mail

These radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 were obtained on Dec. 15-17, by coordinating observations with NASA’s 230-foot antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) 330-foot Green Bank Telescope in Pocahontas County.
(Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR/NSF/GBO)

GREEN BANK, W.Va. — Powerful microwave signals received by West Virginia’s Green Bank Telescope after antennas in California and Puerto Rico beamed them off a mile-long asteroid as it sped toward Earth have given astronomers the most detailed images yet of the slow-rotating object.

The images were obtained Dec. 15-17, as Near-Earth Asteroid 2003 SD220 passed within 1.8 million miles of Earth in its closest approach to the planet in more than 400 years.

“The radar images achieve an unprecedented level of detail and are comparable to those obtained from a spacecraft flyby,” said Lance Benner of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a release from NASA.

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