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First radar images of 2012 DA14 - Watch it spin!

NASA released the first radar images of 2012 DA14 made with the Deep Space Network's 230-foot radio antenna at Goldstone during last Friday's flyby....

NASA released the first radar images of 2012 DA14 made with the Deep Space Network's 230-foot radio antenna at Goldstone during last Friday's flyby. Astronomers used the dish to beam radio waves at the asteroid and "listened" to the echoes to create pictures of its shape and surface features. Bats use the sonic equivalent by bouncing sound waves off of objects to "see" their environment and hunt for food.

The pictures were made over 7.8 hours about 8 hours after closest approach on the night of Feb. 15-16, 2013. Like a child in a portrait session, 2012 DA14 refused to sit still. As the antenna did its magic, the asteroid's distance from Earth increased from 74,000 to 195,000 miles. Additional radar observations are planned through Wednesday Feb. 20 to further refine its orbit.

[embed]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy0p0D3h9iA[/embed]

Watch 2012 DA14 rotate in this animation of 73 frames made with the Goldstone antenna. The video is a loop - you'll see it 9 rotations. Watching the video, you can easily see at least two interesting features of the 150-foot-long asteroid. First, it's elongated like an Idaho spud. Second, it appears to be spinning about its long axis in a counterclockwise direction. Astronomers were fortunate to catch nearly one complete ~8 hour rotation of the asteroid during the observing window.

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The NASA press release indicated these pictures are "the initial sequence". It's hoped more and higher quality images will become available soon. More information and another image HERE .

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