On May 31, 2013 a large near earth object (NEO) designated Asteroid 1998 QE2 passed the earth at about 3.6 million miles away.
Origin of 1998 QE2
While it may appear that the asteroid is named after Queen Elizabeth II, the naming of 1998 QE2 actually follows a designed order used for naming all asteroids: 1998 being the year that it was first discovered and QE2 being an alpha-numeric number system used to name all discovered Near Earth Objects. The name however, has made it easier for scientists and media to describe the size of the NEO which is about 9 lengths of the QEII ship liner in length.
Radar images were used to track the Near Earth Objects on its approach. These images helped to plot the track of Asteroid 1998 QE2, which is just as well as at 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) in diameter, the Near Earth Object could have been a human extinction level asteroid had its trajectory and course collided with Earth. Radar images also revealed that QE2 has a rotation period of less than four hours.
1998 QE2 orbit
Asteroid 1998 QE2 approached Earth with its dark side, hidden away from the sun. Amateur astronomers and space enthusiasts will have a better chance of seeing Asteroid QE2 in early June as it passes around the sun, when its surface will reflect the Sun’s light. Being on an elliptical orbit around the Sun, Asteroid QE2 rounds the Sun and then heads back out towards Jupiter before circling back again.
1998 QE2 has a moon
One of the major discoveries of QE2 was that it wasn’t alone. The binary asteroid is accompanied by its own moon approximately 6 miles in length.
Discussion around Asteroid QE2 focused on the discovery of asteroids and what Earth can do if a near earth object was projected to be on a collision course with Earth.
This special video segment includes recordings of live broadcasts about 1998 QE2 including a Google+ hangout coordinated with the White House called “We the Geeks Google+ Hangout on Asteroids” which discussed NASA‘s recently announced development of a first-ever mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid for human exploration and welcomed questions via social media from the public.