That spooky Halloween asteroid that whizzed by Earth this past weekend has been photographed by NASA, revealing the monster’s ghastly face.
According to Lance Benner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the new images reveal a complex space rock filled with pronounced concavities and mysterious bright spots.
“The images look distinctly different from the Arecibo radar images obtained on Oct. 30 and are probably the result of seeing the asteroid from a different perspective in its three-hour rotation period,” Benner explained.
What makes the Halloween asteroid (officially asteroid 2015 TB145) such a fright isn’t the fact that it passed Earth at about 1.3 lunar distances, or even that it was about 2,000 feet in diameter. It was the fact that NASA hadn’t even known about it until mid-October, which means the terrifying space rock was able to sneak up on us.
Luckily, scientists say we’re very prepared for the Halloween asteroid’s next visit.
“The next time that asteroid 2015 TB145 will be in Earth’s neighborhood will be in September 2018, when it will make a distant pass at about 24 million miles, or about a quarter the distance between Earth and the sun,” NASA said.
For context, the asteroid’s most recent pass was at about 300,000 miles, which means the rock will venture on quite the journey before it’s back on NASA’s radar.