Christmas ‚Hippo‘ Asteroid Is Buzzing Earth, Its Closest Flyby in 400 Years


These three radar images of hippo-shaped near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 were captured between Dec. 15-17, 2018 using NASA’s Goldstone antenna, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR/NSF/GBO
If only a hippopotamus will do this Christmas, Santa has the space rock for you.

By Tariq Malik | SPACE.com

A small asteroid will fly safely by Earth Saturday (Dec. 22) and according to the folks at NASA, it looks just like the mighty hippo in new radar images. The asteroid, called 2003 SD220, is also making its closest approach to Earth in more than 400 years and won’t be any closer until 2070, NASA officials said. It last flew by Earth on Christmas Eve of 2015.

Do you want a hippopotamus for Christmas?“ officials with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote on Twitter Friday (Dec. 21). „You’re in luck. Hippo-shaped #asteroid 2003 SD220 will fly safely past Earth on Saturday, Dec. 22, at a distance of ~1.8 million miles (~2.9 million km).“ (If you’re wondering about the Christmas-hippotomas connection, watch this adorable music video of „I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas“ as sung by a 10-year-old Gayla Peevey in 1953.)

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