We're seeing signs of the The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is tracking an asteroid called 1998 OR2 and captured a radar view of the traveler that makes it look like it's sporting a face mask.everywhere we look. Even astronomers can't help but spot face masks in space now.
The asteroid will come near Earth soon, but will pass at a plenty safe distance. The University of Central Florida shared a radar image of the "masked" asteroid on Thursday.
"The small-scale topographic features such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2 are fascinating scientifically," research scientist Anne Virkki said. "But since we are all thinking about COVID-19 these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask."
We've seen some fun radar views of asteroids in the past, includingand another that . The fuzzy imagery gives plenty of room for active imaginations to play.
Radar observations help scientists learn more about asteroids and their orbital paths. This won't be the asteroid's last visit to our neighborhood. "In 2079, asteroid 1998 OR2 will pass Earth about 3.5 times closer than it will this year, so it is important to know its orbit precisely," research scientist Flaviane Venditti said.
Asteroid 1998 OR2 is about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) across and will make its closest approach on April 29. Future images may give us a better look at the rock and its mask-like facade.