Grinning-Skull Asteroid Set to Whiz by Earth

By Stephanie Pappas

Better late to the Halloween party than never: An asteroid shaped like a grinning skull is set to pass by Earth on Nov. 11.

Asteroid 2015 TB145 was first discovered in 2015, when it zipped within 301,986 miles (486,000 kilometers) of Earth right on Halloween. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory small-body object database, the asteroid’s next flyby will not be nearly so close; it will pass about 24 million miles (38 million km) from our planet. That’s about a quarter of the distance from the Earth to the sun.

The next time 2015 TB 145 approaches Earth won’t be until 2082, when it will pass at about a third of the distance between the Earth and the sun. Its orbit will take it closer to Venus and Mercury in 2024, 2028 and 2037.

Scientists had the opportunity to snap some spooky images of 2015 TB 145 when it first passed the planet, in 2015. The pictures showed a mostly spherical rock with indentations that resembled gaping eye sockets and a nose hole, at least from some angles. 

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.