Asteroid 2014 JO25 looks like something you’d find in a snack bag at a ballgame. NASA released a series of images of the peanut-shaped space rock on Tuesday just prior to its close (but safe) flyby past Earth on Wednesday.
The radar images, captured by an antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California, reveal a fascinating two-lobed object.
“The asteroid has a contact binary structure — two lobes connected by a neck-like region,” NASA scientist Shantanu Naidu said. That’s what lends it the peanut-like appearance. Astronomers estimate the largest lobe is about 2,000 feet (620 meters) across.
The asteroid rotates as it travels, turning around once every five hours. NASA also released a nifty video putting the images together into an animation of the asteroid’s rotation.
Though asteroids fly past our planet on a regular basis, JO25 is particularly notable for its size and the closeness of its approach. NASA doesn’t anticipate the arrival of another asteroid of this size and nearness until 2027.