On 8 November, a 400-meter-wide asteroid dubbed 2005 YU55 will zip past Earth within just a few hundred thousand kilometers. This flyby will give astronomers and the public alike a rare look at what scientists call near-Earth objects. At the same time, satellite data, including information from NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, has illustrated the diversity of such rocks in orbit dangerously close to our planet. What do scientists expect to learn in the wake of 2005 YU55's flyby? What do astronomers know about the abundance and behavior of near-Earth objects? And what dangers do these space rocks present to human civilization?
Join us for a live chat about near-Earth objects at 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday, 3 November, on this page. You can leave your questions in the comment box below before the chat starts.
Scott Fisher is a program director in the Division of Astronomical Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Within the division, Scott oversees and manages grants in the realm of education and special projects. Scott is on a 3-year detail at the NSF from the Gemini Observatory, a large, international observatory with 8-meter telescopes located in Hawaii and central Chile.
Dr. Yeomans was the radio science team chief for NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission. He is currently the NASA project scientist for the Japanese mission to land upon, and return a sample from, a near-Earth asteroid (Hayabusa) and he is a scientific investigator on NASA’s Deep Impact mission that successfully impacted comet Tempel 1 in July 2005 and flew past comet Hartley 2 in November 2010.