January 10, 2014
Nasa’s newly reactivated asteroid hunting space telescope has spotted its first potentially hazardous space rock.
The new asteroid is the first discovery by the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) since the spacecraft came out of hibernation last year.
The rock, named 2013 YP139, is approximately 27 million miles away from Earth and is estimated to be 0.4 miles in diameter. It’s infrared signature suggests the asteroid is extremely dark, like a piece of coal.
It has also been classified as a potentially hazardous near Earth object as its orbit suggests it could pose a risk. Nasa believes that the impact of an asteroid any larger than half a mile in diameter could have “worldwide effects”.