- The Earth received a new visitor in late 2020, originally thought to be a natural piece of space debris, such as a small asteroid.
- The object turned out to be a discarded rocket stage, which was launched half a century ago to return and be sucked in by the Earth’s gravitational pull.
- Now, as it completes its final loop of our planet, the object will soon return back to space, and is unlikely to visit the planet again.
You may have missed last year’s news – you know, due to the global pandemic and WhatsApp – but a mysterious object was intercepted by Earth in November. When astronomers first saw it on our way, they felt that it was some kind of a space rock, and when it was not on a collision course with our planet, orbiting the Earth, at least for a while. was confirmed.
As it turned out, the object was not a space rock or comet, but a piece of man-made debris. The object, a rocket booster launched half a century ago, was part of the Surveyor 2 mission on the moon, and debris hangs around our planet. Now, to complete another swoop around our world, the “mini-moon” will soon be transported back into space, and it’s unlikely we’ll see it again.
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As reported by EarthSky, the rocket first pulled off a very close flyby of Earth only once before moving away from our planet. This latest loop would be its final one, as its speed would be sufficient to escape the Earth’s gravity and to undertake the adventure that revolved around the Sun.
The concept of “mini-moon” is not science fiction at all, and since we know of a lot of small rocky bodies lying in our neck of the woods, it is entirely possible that the object is actually a space. It was a rock. If it were, it would have been a true miniature (and temporary) moon, but the fact that it was just man-made junk meant that it is not eligible for such a label.
Astronomers first suspected that the object was man-made when they realized that the path around the Sun is similar to that of the Earth. It completed an orbit every 387 Earth days, roughly the same as our planet’s orbit, and its incredible slow motion suggested that it was not an asteroid. Now that we know exactly what it is, all those clues give a lot of meaning.
Soon, however, it will be gone. The object is likely to pass through the Earth once in early February and then leave us for good. Bye everyone now