Humans have had a long history of associating things in space to what we see here down on Earth. While we have had constellations and stars being named after ancient gods and creatures, the latest addition to that list is a bit different. Say hello to the “Space Peanut.” Yes, you heard that right. We now officially have an object in space that has been christened the space peanut, Slashgear reports.
This latest discovery by the brilliant folks over at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory happens to be an asteroid. As to why they have named it the space peanut, the reason is quite simple. It looks like a peanut. That said, this space peanut is more of a giant peanut.
It is over 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) in length and no, it is not directly headed towards the Earth. The Space Peanut was first spotted by NASA back in 1999. However, it is only now that it came pretty close to the Earth to warrant attention. NASA figured out that the asteroid was the closest to our planet last weekend. They also managed to take grainy images of the asteroid on July 25, 2015 when it was just over 4.5 million miles away from the Earth. That’s 19 times the distance the moon is from our planet – or in space terms, pretty close. You might want to take a close look at it because the next time it arrives that close to us, half of us would not be around to witness it.
That’s right, the Space Peanut would only come this close to the Earth next in 2054.
Meanwhile, JPL adds that they used the the giant 230-foot wide Deep Space Network antenna 1 located at Goldstone, California and the even larger 330-foot Green Bank Telescope located in West Virginia to take pictures of the space peanut hurtling down in space. They also managed to calculate that it rotates in just over seven-and-a-half hours. To avoid calling it the space peanut in presentations, NASA decided to give the asteroid a more serious sounding name, though. They have officially named it asteroid “1999 JD6.”
According to Sean Marshall, a graduate student at Cornell University, the data received from the space peanut following close observation of the asteroid will help with his doctoral research on 1999 JD6.
“I’m interested in this particular asteroid because estimates of its size from previous observations, at infrared wavelengths, have not agreed. The radar data will allow us to conclusively resolve the mystery of its size to better understand this interesting little world.”
Apart from the Space Peanut, the last week was pretty interesting as a whole for astronomy because of one more Earth-sized planet being discovered on a star just 21 light years away from us.
[Image Via JPL/NASA]