“Earth’s Double Asteroid Flyby” — An ‘Apocalypse Drill’ With ESO’s Exoplanet Observer

1999 KW4 ESO


“The double asteroid was hurtling by the Earth at more than 70 000 km/h, making observing it with the Very Large Telescope (VLT ) challenging,” said Diego Parraguez, who was piloting the European Southern Observatory telescope. He had to use all his expertise to lock on to the fast asteroid and capture it with SPHERE, one of the very few instruments in the world capable of obtaining images sharp enough to distinguish the two components of the asteroid, which are separated by around 2.6 km.