Earth is scheduled to receive a new mini-moon – but astronomers are confused by its origins. Science | news


An object known as 2020 SO is heading towards Earth, and from October, it will be a ‘mini-moon’, which may orbit our planet until May next year. While we have The Moon, the Earth regularly finds many small asteroids and meteors caught in its orbit, which astronomers call ‘mini-mons’.

The definition of the moon is any natural object trapped in the gravitational pull of the planets.

Now astronomers have detected a small, non-threatening object that is moving toward the Earth, and according to simulations from astronomers, could be trapped in the planet’s gravity for up to eight months.

A video of the simulation shows two objects approaching Earth 2020 SO in the orbit of our planet.

The first will come on December 1, when it will fly from a distance of about 50,000 kilometers (31,000 mi).

The object then looks like it will attempt to swing away from our planet on February 2, 2021, before being sucked back by the gravity bridge for a closer approach.

However, this is only from the initial observations and could easily change over the next few months.

Astronomer Tony Dunn said: “Asteroid 2020 SO can get capture from Earth from October 2020 – 2021. The current nominal trajectories show capture through L2, and escape through L1.

“Highly chaotic route, so be prepared for a lot of revision as new observations arrive.”

READ MORE: NASA News: Juno spacecraft ‘dramatic image’ of Jupiter eclipse

In particular, Mr. Chodas stated that it is a piece of rocket from the Surveyor 2 spacecraft that was sent back to the moon in 1966.

Astronomer Kevin Heider said: “The asteroid 2020 SO is suspected to be the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket booster launched on 20 September 1966.

“Earth-like orbit and low relative velocity suggest a possible man-made object.”

Earth’s last mini-moon came earlier this year when a small meteor named the 2020 CD3, which was about the size of a car, was captured by the planet’s orbit.

The space rock orbited for about three months before continuing its journey into the solar system in March.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.