Asteroid 2014 HQ124 appears to be an elongated, irregular object that is at least 1,200 feet (370 meters) wide on its long axis.  Image credits:  NASA/JPL-Caltech Arecibo Observatory USRA/NSF

Asteroid 2014 HQ124 appears to be an elongated, irregular object that is at least 1,200 feet (370 meters) wide on its long axis.
Image credits:
NASA/JPL-Caltech
Arecibo Observatory
USRA/NSF

In asteroid speak, it’s known as 2014 HQ124.

The space rock appears to be an elongated, irregular object that is at least 1,200 feet (370 meters) wide on its long axis.

This particular asteroid was only recently discovered by NASA’s NEOWISE mission, a space telescope adapted for scouting the skies for the infrared light emitted by asteroids and comets. That spacecraft first spotted the asteroid on April 23, 2014.

Now, thanks to paring the capabilities of the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California with two other radio telescopes, one at a time, new radar images of the object have been obtained.

And it’s quite the view!

Sharp viewing

The new imagery shows features as small as about 12 feet (3.75 meters) wide. This is the highest resolution currently possible using scientific radar antennas to produce images. Such sharp views for this asteroid were made possible by linking together giant radio telescopes to enhance their capabilities.

To image the asteroid, researchers first paired the large Goldstone antenna with the 1,000-foot (305-meter) Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. They later paired the large Goldstone dish with a smaller companion, a 112-foot (34-meter) antenna, located about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away.

The result of combining all this technology is that there’s been a dramatic improvement in the amount of detail that can be seen in radar images.

An animation of the rotating asteroid and a collage of the images are available at:

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.php?id=1310

 

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