Of course, Chang’e-2 was not the only one to take a gander at Toutatis – NASA also obtained some useful radar images, which incidentally revealed the slow tumble of the rock), but nothing really beats a good old-fashioned photograph when it comes to the ooh and aah factor.
Looks like Toutatis is mostly smooth with a few boulders it has managed to gather along its path – not exactly something you’d want to put on your list of future vacation spots, but it’s an awesome sight either way.
Near Earth asteroids have become quite the focus of attention lately, since they actually have the true potential to wipe out life on Earth as we know it, if one of them should actually smash into our fair planet. Luckily, there are a few vigilant eyes trained upon those rocks, calculating their orbits and hopefully warning us in time of possible collisions.
Our pal Toutatis poses no threat to us. And with that — have a Happy New Year!
Learn more about Toutatis at http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/watchtheskies/toutatis-092804.html
Beate Czogalla is the Professor of Theater Design in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Georgia College & State University. She has had a lifelong interest in space exploration and has been a Solar System Ambassador for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/ NASA for many years. She can be reached at email@example.com