At 1:59 p.m. PDT (4:59 p.m. EDT), Friday, May 31, the 1998 QE2 asteroid will pass by Earth at a safe distance of about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers) -- its closest approach for at least the next two centuries. The asteroid was discovered Aug. 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Program near Socorro, N.M.
The schedule of events is:
Thursday, May 30
-- 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. PDT (1:30 to 2:30 p.m. EDT): NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will show on NASA Television live telescope images of the asteroid and host a discussion with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and experts from JPL and the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex. Scientists at Goldstone will be using radar to track and image the asteroid.
The event also will be streamed live on the agency's website at: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv . It will also be available on Ustream.tv with live chat capability at: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2 .
Viewers may submit questions in advance to @AsteroidWatch on Twitter with the hashtag #asteroidQE2.
-- 5 to 7 p.m. PDT (8 to 10 p.m. EDT): Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will host an online chat at: http://www.nasa.gov/chat .
Friday, May 31
-- 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. PDT (2 to 3 p.m. EDT), NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will participate in a White House "We the Geeks" Google+ Hangout. Participants will discuss asteroid identification, characterization, resource utilization and hazard mitigation. The hangout can be viewed at the White House website at: https://plus.google.com/+whitehouse/posts .
NASA recently announced plans to find, study, capture and relocate an asteroid for exploration by astronauts. The asteroid initiative is a strategy to leverage human and robotic activities for the first human mission while accelerating efforts to improve detection and characterization of asteroids.
For more about NASA's asteroid activities, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/asteroid .
More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is available at: http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/ , http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch and via Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/asteroidwatch .
More information about asteroid radar research is at: http://echo.jpl.nasa.gov/ .
News Media ContactD.C. Agle 818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Sarah Ramsey 202-358-1694
NASA Headquarters, Washington