Three of the world's largest radio telescopes team up to show a rare double asteroid. 2017 YE5 is only the fourth binary near-Earth asteroid ever observed in which the two bodies are roughly the same size, and not touching. This video shows radar images of the pair gathered by Goldstone Solar System Radar, Arecibo Observatory and Green Bank Observatory.
When asteroid 2017 YE5 was first observed in December 2017, details about its physical properties were unknown.
But new radar observations tell us the asteroid is not one, but two objects, orbiting each other.
Each object is about 3,000 feet (900 meters) wide. The binary asteroid made its closest approach to Earth on June 21, 2017, coming to within 16 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.
NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar first detected that 2017 YE5 could be two distinct objects.
Joint radar observations by the Arecibo Observatory and the Green Bank Observatory confirmed the asteroidÕs double identity.
2017 YE5 is only the fourth binary near-Earth asteroid ever observed in which the two bodies are roughly the same size, and not touching.
The two objects may have different surface properties.