Posted by Chris Monty on September 26th 2011
NASA has just announced that it will hold a press conference on Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. GMT) to reveal near-Earth asteroid findings and the potential implications for future research.
The briefing will be held at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission, launched in December of 2009, has thus far captured millions of pictures of galaxies and objects in space. During the press conference, panelists will discuss results from an enhancement of WISE called Near-Earth Object WISE (NEOWISE) that hunted for asteroids.
It is not yet known whether NASA will reveal further data on a near-earth asteroid that is scheduled to pass between the moon and Earth later this year.
The 1300-foot-wide 2005 YU55 asteroid will pass within 0.85 lunar distances of the Earth on November 8, 2011.
Discovered on December 28, 2005 by Robert McMillan of the Spacewatch Program in Arizona, 2005 YU55 is believed to be a very dark, almost-perfectly-round object.
According to NASA’s Near Earth Object Program: “Although classified as a potentially hazardous object, 2005 YU55 poses no threat of an Earth collision over at least the next 100 years. However, this will be the closest approach to date by an object this large that we know about in advance and an event of this type will not happen again until 2028 when asteroid (153814) 2001 WN5 will pass to within 0.6 lunar distances.”
While neither the European Space Agency (ESA) nor NASA have said that 2005 YU55 poses a threat to Earth, plans to develop a mission to counteract a potential asteroid collision in the future are already underway.
The ESA is planning to fire an “impactor” satellite into a “test” asteroid in 2015 to see if the object’s trajectory can be altered. The Agency is conducting the test mission due to the minimal threat posed to Earth by the 700-1100-foot-wide 99942 Apophis asteroid, which has a one-in-250,000 chance of impacting Earth in the year 2036.