Welcome back, Surveyor 2 Centaur Rocket Booster. We’ve just got a new chapter in a Bitwatch space saga featuring a raging launch, a Dudum Moon mission and decades of space wanderings.
A rocket booster was used by NASA to launch the Surveyor 2 lunar lander in 1966, which has returned to us for a temporary spin as a mini-moon in orbit around the Earth. When scientists saw it in September, they named it 2020 SO. On Wednesday, NASA announced that the strange object has been positively identified as a ’60s booster.
When the boosters did their work back in 1966, the lander did not survive a crash landing on the lunar surface.
Typical orbit of boosters around the sun, One of the many space rocks that zip around our cosmic neighborhood. Some explorers sent the boosters back to Earth in 1966.
Telescope observations have now revealed the 2020 SO’s stainless steel structure. This cosmic espionage task involves comparing spectrum data on an esoteric object with data collected on a known centaur rocker booster that has been circulating in space since 1971. It was a match.
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The object has attracted a lot of interest due to the mystery surrounding it and the fact that it was captured in an Earth orbit that makes it a cute little tour on the mini-moon.When it came closer to Earth on 30 November.
The Centaur Booster will stick with us for a few months, but is expected to continue its space adventures in orbit around the Sun sometime in March 2021. At this point we can all say, “Good night, Centaur. Good night, mini-moon.”