Radar Teamwork Captures Clearer Asteroid Images


Asteroid 1998 WT24 safely flew past Earth in December, 2015 at a distance of about 2.6 million miles. During its flyby, NASA scientists used the 230-foot DSS-14 antenna at Goldstone, CA, to probe it with microwave transmissions. Using this technique, they created the highest-resolution radar images of the asteroid. This is the second time asteroid 1998 WT24 has been in the sights of NASA's solar system radar. In December of 2001, Goldstone obtained the first radar images of 1998 WT24, which revealed that the asteroid was about 1,300 feet in diameter and shaped like a Russet potato. The radar images from 2001 had a resolution of about 60 feet per pixel. The new radar images achieve a spatial resolution as fine as 25 feet per pixel. Radar measurements of asteroid distances and velocities often enable computation of asteroid orbits much further into the future than would be possible otherwise.