Comet’s Close Brush With Earth Seen in Radar Images

(ABC News) — NASA has released incredible radar images showing what a comet looked like as it hurtled past Earth last week, making it the third closest brush in recorded history, according to the space agency.

At its closest pass, the irregularly shaped Comet P/2016 BA14 was 2.2 million miles away from Earth — a considerably safe distance but also close enough for scientists using the Goldstone Solar System Radar in California to get a stunning look as the mammoth object zoomed past our planet.

“We were able to obtain very detailed radar images of the comet nucleus over three nights around the time of closest approach,” Shantanu Naidu, a researcher at NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory said in a statement about the March 22 flyby.

Naidu said researchers were able to observe the comet’s shape in stunning detail, including topographic features and its bizarre shape, described as looking like a brick on one side and a pear on the other. The images capture details as small as eight meters per pixel, according to NASA.

Researchers were also able to glean some insight into the comet’s behavior, noting from radar images that it appears to spin around its axis once every 35 to 40 hours.

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