Close Encounter of the Binary Kind

No, I don’t mean visits from alien computers.  😉  I mean that the first radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86, which flew by Earth earlier today, are in — and it’s got a companion.  (Okay, so the moon isn’t big enough to call this a binary asteroid, but otherwise I was gonna have to make a “that’s no moon” joke, okay? 😛 )  This animation is composed of 20 individual images taken by the 70-meter “Mars” telescope at NASA’s Goldstone facility in California.  Radar images are a bit like ultrasound pictures — the camera is actually “above” the asteroid in this picture, illuminating it with radio waves so a computer can reconstruct an image out of the reflected radio signals.



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