NASA's Planetary Radar Images Asteroid 2006 HV5
This collage represents a selection of NASA radar observations of near-Earth asteroid 2006 HV5 on April 25, 2023, less than one day before its close approach with our planet at a distance of about 1.5 million miles (2.4 million kilometers, or about 6.3 times the distance between the Moon and Earth). Asteroid 2006 HV5 was discovered by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program in New Mexico in April 2006. The radar images show that 2006 HV5 is about 1,000 feet (300 meters) across, roughly the height of the Eiffel Tower, confirming size estimates derived from infrared observations made previously by NASA's NEOWISE mission. 2006 HV5 is classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid as its orbit brings it close to Earth, but its path around the Sun is very well known and the asteroid is not an impact risk to our planet. Asteroids of this size come this close to Earth roughly once a year, on average.
The new observations were made by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory using the powerful 230-foot (70-meter) Goldstone Solar System Radar antenna at the Deep Space Network's facility near Barstow, California. The images confirm the asteroid's size, while also providing a detailed look at its meatball-like shape.
The asteroid has a rounded appearance, is "squished" at the poles (i.e., it is oblate), and has a rotation period of about 3.6 hours. The sequence of radar images spans slightly more than one rotation. The images, which have a resolution of about 12 feet (3.75 meters) per pixel, reveal surface features such as ridges, flat regions, concavities, and small-scale topography that might indicate boulders.
More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch.