SCIENCE
12/17/2012 02:07 pm ET

Huge Asteroid On Video: '4179 Toutatis' Captured As It Flies By Earth


On Wednesday, a huge asteroid was caught on video as it flew by Earth at a distance of only 4.3 million miles.

Asteroid 4179 Toutatis is a 3-mile-wide asteroid that would cause catastrophic damage if it ever struck Earth. But researchers say they can rule that out for at least the next four centuries.

The video, which can be seen above, shows Toutatis spinning slowly; NASA describes it as a wobbly football being thrown poorly, according to io9.

The short film is captured through radar images taken in 64 frames on Dec. 12 and Dec. 13. Its resolution is 12 feet per pixel, NASA said in a written statement.

This is not the only close encounter Earth has had in recent months. A smaller asteroid whizzed by Earth on Oct. 12 at one-fourth the distance to the moon.

Another massive asteroid, 2005 YU55, passed by Earth in November 2011, similarly leading to a video released by NASA.

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