Huge Asteroid on Video Shows 4179 Toutatis Tumbling Through Space (VIDEO)

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By Myles Collier , Christian Post Contributor
December 17, 2012|9:13 am

Scientists were able to produce a video that shows a huge, near-Earth asteroid in its orbit as it passes our planet without incident.

The near-Earth asteroid, known as 4179 Toutatis, is roughly three miles wide and astronomers were able to get a good look at the space rock when it passed by Earth on Wednesday.

The video of the asteroid is about 40 seconds long and was created from 64 radar images taken as the object passed Earth by NASA's Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif.

Scientists stated that Toutatis was about 4.3 million miles from Earth during its closest approach and provided for a detailed observation of the object.

The compiled radar images show Toutatis is an oddly shaped body that is elongated and was seen to have many ridge-like forms on its surface.

The video also helps scientists study how the object travels through space, which could lead to better detection and understanding of future near-Earth objects. Scientists explained the asteroid rotates on its axis every 5.4 days and tumbles through space like a poorly thrown football.

Toutatis was never going to impact the Earth and will not for the next four centuries, but astronomers stated that its orbit cannot be predicted accurately past that time.

Astronomers revealed that Toutatis was first seen in 1934 and then put on the books officially in 1989. Its current orbit takes the asteroid around the sun every four years.

While this specific object poses no real harm to Earth, the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass. has listed Toutatis as a potentially hazardous object that could possibly be a threat to Earth at some point in the future.

Should the asteroid strike Earth, it would be devastating for the planet, given that scientists have stated that any impact from an object bigger than 0.6 miles wide could have global implications. It would also affect the climate for many years.

 

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