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Asteroid caught on video: Satellite spies Toutatis tumbling through space

Posted on: 10:57 am, December 17, 2012, by , updated on: 10:58am, December 17, 2012

A new video captured by NASA shows the giant asteroid 4179 Toutatis tumbling through space on its flyby past Earth last week.

The video, which is about 40 seconds long, combines 64 radar images taken Wednesday and Thursday (Dec. 12 and 13) by NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif.

When the asteroid flew past earth, Toutatis was about 4.3 million miles from Earth, or about 18 times farther away than the moon is.

The radar images show the 3-mile-wide asteroid as an elongated, irregularly shaped object with multiple ridges, researchers told Fox News.

The video also sheds light on how Toutatis moves. The asteroid spins about its long axis every 5.4 days and wobbles through space like a badly thrown football, scientists told Fox News.

Toutatis never posed a threat to Earth on its recent flyby, and researchers say there is no chance it will hit our planet over the next four centuries or so. (Beyond that time, the asteroid’s orbit cannot be accurately computed.)

Read more: Fox News

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