Approaching asteroid 1998 QE2 has a moon. Researchers found it in a sequence of radar images obtained by the 70-meter Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., on the evening of May 29th (May 30th Universal Time) when the asteroid was about 6 million kilometers from Earth.
The preliminary estimate for the size of the asteroid’s satellite is approximately 600 meters wide. The asteroid itself is approximately 2.7 kilometers in diameter and has a rotation period of less than four hours.
I saw the headline for this and did a double take. Okay, so it’s a binary asteroid.
Makes me think of the Tweety and Sylvester cartoon with the great big bulldog and the little yap dog that followed it around. “Huh, Spike, huh?”
In other asteroid news, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has identified 28 new families of asteroids, for a total of 76 families. They basically look at what asteroids could have come from a larger parent body, with similar composition, light reflection, and orbit.