This image of asteroid 2011 MD is actually three separate observations taken in different wavelengths (red, green, blue) as seen by Australia’s remote operated Faulkes Telescope South. Astronomers with the Remanzacco Observatory based in Italy took the image during the asteroid’s extremly close pass by Earth on June 27, 2011.
CREDIT: Remanzacco Observatory/Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero, Nick Howes
The space rock, called asteroid 2011 MD, reached its closest point to Earth just after 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT), when it crept within 7,500 miles (12,000 km) of Earth before whipping away again like a slingshot. The asteroid was flying over the southern Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Antarctica, at the time of its closest approach.
The asteroid was discovered just last week on June 22, but there was never any risk of it impacting Earth, NASA scientists said. Astronomers with the LINEAR near-Earth object survey in Socorro, N.M., made the find.