Toutatis: Huge Asteroid's Flyby, Courtesy of NASA

Scientists use radar to piece together images of the asteroid's surface

By on December 17th, 2012 07:10 GMT

A 3-mile-wide (4.8 kilometers) asteroid does not come amazingly close to Earth all that often, which is why Toutatis made headlines all across the globe.

With the help of NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar, ordinary folks can now have a look at this asteroid's surface. Thus, on December 12 and December 13, scientists used radar imaging to piece together these “close-ups” of Toutatis.

More precisely, they fired radio waves at the asteroid, and used the returning signals to figure out what Toutatis looks like.

As specialists explain, they had to resort to radar imaging because the optical telescopes they had at their disposal were unable to make out Toutatis' surface features.

NASA researchers wish to reassure people that, according to their calculations, this asteroid has zero chances of colliding with our planet anytime in the next four centuries.

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