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An asteroid that passed within 3.7 million miles from Earth last year has turned out to be not one object, but two.
Asteroid 2017 YE5 was first spotted on Dec 21, 2017 by the Morocco Oukaimeden Sky Survey, and made its closest approach to Earth last month, on June 21.
Observations - Flyby - Times - Distance - Earth
Observations during its close flyby, when it was about 16 times the distance between Earth and the moon, revealed it to be a binary system made up of two 3,000-foot objects orbiting each other.
NASA has released what it says are the most detailed images taken yet of the near-Earth system, revealing how the two space rocks dance around each other.
Experts - Asteroid - Close - Earth - Years
The experts say the binary asteroid won’t come this close to Earth for another 170 years.
While it’s clear from the latest observation that 2017 YE5 is, in fact, two objects, it’s easy to see how it could be mistaken for one at some angles.
Head - Points - Orbits - Align - Lumpy
When viewed head on at certain points in their orbits, the two align to appear as a single, albeit lumpy, space rock.
‘On June 21 and 22, observations by NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar (GSSR)...
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