NASA snaps images of an asteroid large enough to have a moon of its own

NASA's Goldstone radar captured detailed images of the asteroid 2011 UL21 and its tiny moon, revealing surface features and aiding planetary defense study.

: NASA's Goldstone radar dish captured detailed images of asteroid 2011 UL21 as it made a close approach on June 27, revealing a small moon orbiting it. The images provided insights into the asteroid's spherical shape and surface features. A second asteroid, 2024 MK, was imaged just two days later, highlighting NASA's efforts in planetary defense.

NASA's Goldstone radar dish recently captured impressive images of the asteroid 2011 UL21, which is about a mile wide. Interestingly, the asteroid has a small moon orbiting it at a distance of around 1.9 miles, showcasing the capabilities of NASA's technology to detect binary systems in space.

These radar images offered intricate details about 2011 UL21's almost perfectly spherical shape and surface features such as craters. The asteroid passed within 4.1 million miles of Earth, allowing scientists to gather valuable data that can be used to estimate the object's orbit, mass, and density.

Just two days later, the Goldstone team also imaged another asteroid, 2024 MK, which came within 184,000 miles of Earth. Such close encounters are crucial for studying potentially hazardous asteroids and refining planetary defense measures to predict and prepare for future threats.