Massive Asteroid To Approach Earth In November

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Massive Asteroid to Approach Earth in

May 09, 2011 03:15 PM EDT

A massive asteroid estimated to be the size of an aircraft carrier will approach Earth this November, coming closer than this planet's moon. How close? Scientists predict that asteroid 2005 YU 55 will come within 201, 700 miles from Earth on November 8th of this year.

This is one close call that experts are actually looking forward too, rather than preparing the world for disaster. NASA scientist Barbara Wilson says, "When it flies past, it should be a great opportunity for science instruments on the ground to get a good look."

Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office, agrees, for now. However, because of its size and other characteristics, YU55 has been identified as "potentially dangerous" in the future.

Fox News reports that the asteroid will be imaged with 4-meter-per-pixel resolution, giving experts outstanding detail, says astronomer Lance Benner. "We're talking about getting down to the kind of surface detail you dream of when you have a spacecraft fly by one of these targets."

What is the reward for these studies, other than scientific curiosity? The obvious answer is to discover which asteroids are appropriate for a "future human mission." The space frontier is in its infancy, and who knows what opportunity lies in its exploration. Pioneers settled the West, and if someone wants to volunteer to pioneer an asteroid settlement, well......why not?

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