‘Tis the night before Christmas, and Asteroid 2003 SD220 is making its closest approach to Earth. NASA managed to snap a few pics of this pickle-shaped asteroid, which the space agency says poses no threat to our planet whatsoever.


This asteroid will breeze by Earth today at a distance of 6.8 million miles (11 million km). Using the Deep Space Network’s 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at Goldstone, California, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab acquired some grainy radio images of the large space rock. These scans were made from December 17-22 when the asteroid was at a distance of 7.3 million miles (12 million km).

“The radar images data suggest that asteroid 2003 SD220 is highly elongated and at least 3,600 feet [1,100 meters] in length,” noted JPL’s Lance Benner of JPL in a statement. “The data acquired during this pass of the asteroid will help us plan for radar imaging during its upcoming closer approach in 2018.”


Indeed, this asteroid will come back in a few years, but it’ll be even closer at a distance of 1.8 million miles (2.8 million km).

“There is no cause for concern over the upcoming flyby of asteroid 2003 SD220 this Christmas Eve,” added NASA’s Paul Chodas. “The closest this object will come to Santa and his eight tiny reindeer is about 28 times the distance between Earth and the moon.”


Email the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him at @dvorsky. Top image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR