First spotted in 1998, the asteroid 52768 (1998 OR2), will fly by the Earth next week. It will pass within 3,908,791 miles of Earth, moving at 19,461 miles per hour on April 29.
The asteroid is approximately 2 km in diameter and rotates once every 4.1 hours, as was suggested by optical observations. What’s interesting is, the asteroid seems to be wearing a face mask, similar to humans.
The image was taken on Saturday (April 18) by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The observatory tweeted:
Anne Virkki, head of planetary radar at Arecibo Observatory, said, “The small-scale topographic features such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2 are fascinating scientifically. But since we are all thinking about COVID-19, these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask.”
As per reports, the asteroid will fly past Earth at a distance of 6.3 million kilometers from the Earth. There is nothing to fear; it won’t threaten human civilization.
Flaviane Venditti, a research scientist at the observatory said, “The radar measurements allow us to know more precisely where the asteroid will be in the future, including its future close approaches to Earth. In 2079, asteroid 1998 OR2 will pass Earth about 3.5 times closer than it will this year, so it is important to know its orbit precisely.”