(ORDO NEWS) — There are many different objects in space. Some are dangerous for us, others are of scientific interest, and still, others may become new moons! Astronomers recently noticed a mysterious body heading in our direction, it poses no threat to the Earth, but it is likely to get trapped in our orbit and become a new mini-moon in October!
If that happens, the object, named 2020 SO by the researchers, would become the third documented mini-moon to orbit Earth. Like the other two, 2020 SO is officially classified as an asteroid, but there is evidence that it could also be a piece of space debris created by a man who decided to “return home” many years later.
Asteroid 2020 SO may get captured by Earth from Oct 2020 – May 2021. Current nominal trajectory shows shows capture through L2, and escape through L1. Highly-chaotic path, so be prepared for lots of revisions as new observations come in. @renerpho @nrco0e https://t.co/h4JaG2rHEd pic.twitter.com/RfUaeLtEWq
— Tony Dunn (@tony873004) September 20, 2020
Scientists speculate that this could be the ejected upper stage Centaurus from the Surveyor 2 lander, which was launched in 1966 to study the moon but failed. The researchers note that the object is suitable in size and moves much slower than the asteroid. Space archaeologist Alice Gorman said that the object’s low speed reflects its initial velocity, which is also suggestive.
Experts say that it is simply impossible to track all the space debris that we have ever launched into orbit over the past decades. Therefore, scientists are not at all surprised by the fact that a piece of an old spacecraft can be a new guest in our orbit.
Be that as it may, the new mini-moon will not last long. Current projections say the object will be in orbit until May 2021, after which it will fly back into space.
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