An asteroid, estimated to be at least 1.5 kilometers wide, is set to fly by the Earth next week. The asteroid is nearly half the size of Mt Everest, and it has generated a huge buzz online. According to new images from Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the asteroid looks like it is wearing a face mask.
According to CNN, the asteroid, called 52768 (1998 OR2), was first spotted in 1998. On April 29, it will pass within 3.9 million miles of Earth - which is 16 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.
Recently, the Arecibo Observatory snapped a radar image of the asteroid. The team of scientists and telescope operators at the observatory, all working while wearing protective face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, likened the appearance of the asteroid to themselves in a hilarious tweet.
"#TeamRadar and the @NAICobservatory staff are taking the proper safety measures as we continue observations. This week we have been observing near-Earth asteroid 1998 OR2, which looks like it's wearing a mask!" they wrote while sharing the image of 1998 OR2 alongside their own pics.
#TeamRadar and the @NAICobservatory staff are taking the proper safety measures as we continue observations. This week we have been observing near-Earth asteroid 1998 OR2, which looks like it's wearing a mask! It's at least 1.5 km across and is passing 16 lunar distances away! pic.twitter.com/X2mQJCT2Qg— Arecibo Radar (@AreciboRadar) April 18, 2020
"The small-scale topographic features such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2 are fascinating scientifically," said Anne Virkki, head of planetary radar at Arecibo Observatory, in a statement, according to CNN. "But since we are all thinking about Covid-19, these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask."
The asteroid was classified as a potentially hazardous object as it comes within 5 million miles of Earth's orbit and is bigger than 500 feet. However, according to Daily Mail, NASA scientists stress that it is very unlikely the asteroid will hit the Earth.Click for more trending news