Recently, astronomers revealed that a potentially hazardous asteroid might be coming our way. NASA’s Planetary Defence Coordination Office had its eyes set on this frozen rock for some time now, being the target of an extensive observing campaign. The KW4 asteroid, also dubbed 66391 Moshup, was first observed in 1999, and it was labeled as “potentially hazardous” by the Minor Planet Center.
The name Moshup comes from an indigenous legend about a giant named “Moshup” who warned the native Americans about the Europeans that wanted to settle on their land. The indigenous people ignored the warning and decided to help the newcomers instead, offering them food over the winter. Of course, the native American population was obliterated by Europeans.
International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) has also been observing KW4 since 1999. The asteroid passed our planet this year at a minimum distance of 5.2 million km, on 25 May 2019, but it did not pose any danger to us.
Since experts have been studying KW4 for a long time, its orbit is already well-known to them. According to the predictions, the asteroid will pass by us again on 25 May 2036, this time coming in extreme proximity to Earth, at around 2.2 million km.
KW4 is classified as a binary asteroid of the Aten group, having around 1.3 km in diameter. It crosses Earth’s, Venus’ and Mercury’s orbits, and it is also the closest known binary system to the Sun.
The asteroid is ridged in the center, has a spinning top and, surprisingly, it has its own moon orbiting the main body.