Skull-shaped Asteroid to Return to Earth in 2018
Ominously-shaped asteroid TB145 startled internet audiences when it last flew by Earth on Halloween of 2015, coming within 300,000 miles of our planet; a flight path that was just outside the 239,000 mile average distance of Earth's moon. Its next scheduled appearance past Earth will be sometime in November of 2018, say astronomers, but this time it will be at a much farther distance of 105 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
Previous study of the asteroid by NASA and other astronomers worldwide during its last visit revealed that the skull-like celestial simulacrum only reflects five or six percent of the sunlight that hits it.
"This means that it is very dark, only slightly more reflective than charcoal," said Pablo Santos-Sanz, an astrophysicist at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia in Spain.
Santos-Sanz hopes to use the upcoming opportunity to increase our understanding of the asteroid.
"Although this approach shall not be so favorable, we will be able to obtain new data which could help improve our knowledge of this mass and other similar masses that come close to our planet," he said.