Astronomers have hypothesized that Kamoaleva was ejected from the lunar surface by a meteorite impact and then ended up in an orbit that appears close to both the Earth and the Moon. The discovery was published in the latest issue of Communications Earth & Environment.
The Kamoaleva asteroid has long attracted the attention of astronomers. The Chinese space mission, planned for 2025, involves landing on an asteroid and returning samples to Earth.
This ambitious project represents an opportunity for science, as fragments of the asteroid could provide information about the origins of not only the Moon itself, but also the Earth, as well as enrich our knowledge of the lore of near-Earth asteroids.
Professor Aaron Rosengren from the University of California, San Diego, emphasizes: “Elements of this cosmic body can give us information about the Moon’s approach to Earth and improve our knowledge of near-Earth asteroids.”
The research also changes our understanding of the origins of near-Earth asteroids. Until now, it was thought that they mostly came to us from the orbit of Mars, but new data points to the Moon as a more likely source of these cosmic objects.
Kamoaleva represents something unique. This asteroid is a quasi-satellite of the Earth. This means that its orbit is so similar to Earth’s that it appears to us to be orbiting the planet, when in fact it is orbiting the Sun. Another mystery of Kamoaleva is the duration of his stay in this state.
Astronomer José Daniel Castro-Cisneros of the University of Arizona said: “The asteroid is expected to be a satellite of Earth for millions of years, periodically transitioning from its traditional quasi-satellite state to a horseshoe-shaped co-orbital motion.”
However, how Kamoaleva ended up in its current orbit remains a mystery. Moon fragments that have enough kinetic energy to escape the Earth-Moon system usually have too much energy to enter Earth’s quasi-satellite orbits, according to planetary science professor Renu Malhotra of the University of Arizona.
Throughout its history, the Moon has been bombarded by asteroids, which is confirmed by the discovery of impact craters on its surface.
Some of the materials ejected by impacts become meteors and fall to Earth. But only a small part of this material is able to overcome the gravity of the Moon and Earth, ending up in orbit around the Sun, among other near-Earth asteroids.
These discoveries give us a better understanding of near-Earth asteroids , which in certain cases may end up on Earth.
News agencies contributed to this report, edited and published by ORDO News editors.
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