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NASA discovers new potentially hazardous asteroid

Washington: NASA's latest sky-mapping spacecraft has discovered a new potentially hazardous asteroid, 43 million kilometres from Earth.It is the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE)'s first such discovery since coming out of hibernation last
PTI January 09, 2014 12:09 IST
PTI
Washington: NASA's latest sky-mapping spacecraft has discovered a new potentially hazardous asteroid, 43 million kilometres from Earth.

It is the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE)'s first such discovery since coming out of hibernation last year.

The spacecraft discovered a near-Earth asteroid designated 2013 YP139 on December 29. The mission's sophisticated software picked out the moving object against a background of stationary stars.

As NEOWISE circled Earth scanning the sky, it observed the asteroid several times over half a day before the object moved beyond its view.

Researchers at the University of Arizona used the Spacewatch telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory southwest of Tucson to confirm the discovery.

NASA expects 2013 YP139 will be the first of hundreds of asteroid discoveries for NEOWISE.

"We are delighted to get back to finding and characterising asteroids and comets, especially those that come into Earth's neighbourhood," said Amy Mainzer, the mission's principal investigator from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.