'Potentially dangerous' asteroid spotted passing Earth on April 19

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Washington, April 30 (ANI): An asteroid on the list of potentially dangerous space passed Earth last week at a distance of 1.5 million miles.

The near-Earth asteroid named 2005 YU55 was observed with the Arecibo Telescope's planetary radar on April 19, 2010, according to Michael Nolan, director of the Arecibo Observatory.

The Arecibo telescope is located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, and it is managed by Cornell University on behalf of the National Science Foundation.

Arecibo radar imaging of 2005 YU55 at 25-ft resolution showed that this asteroid is about 400 meters (1,300 feet) in size -- about a quarter-mile long -- and about twice as large as previously estimated.

This object is on the list of "potentially hazardous asteroids" maintained by the Minor Planet Center, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass.

High-precision radar astrometry reduced orbit uncertainties by 50 percent. This improvement eliminated any possibility of an impact with the Earth for the next 100 years, and it was removed from the "Risk Page" maintained by NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

After circling the Sun, 2005 YU55 will next approach the Earth to about 0.8 lunar distances on Nov. 8, 2011. It will pose no impact hazard at that time. Robert McMillan of the Spacewatch asteroid detection program discovered the asteroid on December 28, 2005.

President Barack Obama has proposed that NASA's 'Near Earth Object Observations' program be increased from 3.7 million dollars in 2009 to 20.3 million dollars in 2011.

NASA has indicated that it intends to provide support to the Arecibo radar program if that funding remains in the budget.

Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., added 2 million dollars to NASA's near-Earth object research program in 2010 for support of the Arecibo research work. These funds will offset reduced funding from the National Science Foundation. (ANI)

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