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Tiny moon discovered around asteroid that's due to fly by Earth on May 31st

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Asteroid 1998 QE2 with moon (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR)
Asteroid 1998 QE2 with moon (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR)

An asteroid the size of the Golden Gate Bridge (about 1.7 miles wide) is due to fly near the Earth on May 31st, that much scientists have known for a while. But what they did not know was that the asteroid, named 1998 QE2, would be bringing along a friend. New radar imagery of the asteroid's approach taken by NASA scientists using an antennae in Goldstone, California, has revealed that the asteroid contains a tiny moon of its own, approximately 2,000 feet wide. Check out the asteroid and its moon in a video released today by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

NASA notes this isn't totally unexpected, as around 16 percent of the near-Earth asteroids are thought to exist in "binary," or multiple-object, orbits. Still, neither the asteroid nor its companion moon should pose any danger to the Earth: both are expected to sail by at a safe distance of 3.6 million miles.