Earth Appears to Be Capturing a Tiny New Moon – Futurism

Posted: September 26, 2020 at 7:01 am

Cuffing Season

Theres a mysterious object in space heading our way and while it poses no threat to the Earth, it will probably get trapped in our orbit and become a new minimoon.

If it does, then the object dubbed 2020 SOby researchers would become just the third confirmed minimoon to spend time in Earths orbit, ScienceAlert reports. Like the other two, 2020 SO is officially classified as an asteroid, but theres evidence that it may be something else: a long-lost piece of human-made space garbage thats finally re-entering our orbit.

Scientists told ScienceAlert theres a decent chance 2020 SO is actually the discarded Centaur stage of a rocket that launched the lunar lander Surveyor 2 during a failed mission in 1966. The object is about the right size,they say, and its traveling much slower than an asteroid would.

The velocity seems to be a big one, Flinders University space archaeologist Alice Gorman told ScienceAlert. What Im seeing is that its just moving too slowly, which reflects its initial velocity. Thats essentially a big giveaway.

It turns out its hard to track all the space junk weve launched into orbit over the decades experts told ScienceAlert it wouldnt be surprising to hear wed lost track of one Centaur stage.

Whatever it is, our minimoon visitor wouldnt be around for too long. Current projections show that it would be trapped in orbit through May 2021, at which point it would once more whip off into space.

READ MORE: Earth Is About to Capture a Minimoon, But Theres Something Odd About This One [ScienceAlert]

More on minimoons: Astronomers: Our Planet Might Have Another Moon, Except Its Tiny

Link:
Earth Appears to Be Capturing a Tiny New Moon - Futurism

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