On a brick and a pear: Gigantic comet's flyby captured by NASA (PHOTO, VIDEO)
A gigantic comet which was making the third closest flyby of Earth in history has been captured by NASA radars. The space body appears to look like “a brick on one side and a pear on the other,” the scientists said.
The stargazers were observing the comet P/2016 BA14 which was about 1 kilometer in diameter on March 22.
“The comet was about 3.5 million kilometers away, making it the third closest comet flyby in recorded history,” NASA said.
The scientists said they used the Goldstone Solar System Radar in California's Mojave Desert to follow the space body.
"We were able to obtain very detailed radar images of the comet nucleus over three nights around the time of closest approach," said Shantanu Naidu, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
According to researchers, the comet spins “around its axis once every 35 to 40 hours.”
"The radar images show that the comet has an irregular shape: looks like a brick on one side and a pear on the other," Naidu said. "We can see quite a few signatures related to topographic features such as large flat regions, small concavities and ridges on the surface of the nucleus."
The comet turns to be reflecting less than “3 percent of the sunlight that falls on its surface,” according to the data presented by Vishnu Reddy, of the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona.
“Comet nuclei are as dark as fresh asphalt. However, infrared spectra can often yield clues to the makeup of these primitive denizens of the solar system,” NASA wrote.