Earth May Have a New Mini-Moon in Its Orbit!


Research specialists Kacper Wierzchos and Theodore Pruyne - who work at the Catalina Sky Survey, a NASA-funded project at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory - discovered a tiny asteroid, known as 2020 CD3, orbiting Earth in a ideal pattern. Researchers determined that the object had been orbiting Earth for the last three years, according to orbital trajectory calculations made by astronomer Tony Dunn.

Kacper Wierzchos and Teddy Pruyne of the Caltalina Sky Survey shared images of the object they discovered on Halloween a year ago from a telescope atop Mt Bigelow in southern Arizona.

Numerous planets in our solar system have multiple moons, and some even have dozens of large objects that revolve around them. "It's heading away from the Earth-moon system as we converse", says Grigori Fedorets at Queen's College Belfast within the United Kingdom, and it appears doubtless it is going to escape in April.

This rare sighting is "big news" due to the fact that there are more than a million known asteroids, but this is only the second one to orbit Earth.

NASA scientists have previously conducted computer simulations suggesting Earth is usually host to one or more mini moons, asteroids that temporarily circle Earth before breaking free and escaping back into interplanetary space.

The asteroid has been called 2020 CD3, and it's only between 1.9 and 3.5 meters in diameter. It has since resumed orbiting the sun.

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According to a report by The Conversation, 2020 CD₃ belongs to a category of asteroids whose orbits cross that of the Earth's. In 2006 and ran it for eleven months is a long time, a second moon to the earth. "Further observations and dynamical studies are strongly encouraged", it added.

Tesla CEO had shared the image of the Tesla Roadster with the earth in the background and the $100,000 convertible is still moving around our solar system in an elliptical path around the sun.

The first asteroid that orbited our planet was the 2006 RH120.

What's next: A lot more observations. It is a very small object, but it is still large enough to be seen from terrestrial sensors and, if it hangs long enough, it could qualify as a "mini moon".

The previous moonlet orbited Earth in 2006 and 2007 before rejoining its fellow asteroids.

Wierzchos said there is still a possibility that the "mini-moon" is a man-made object, but all signs point to the fact that this is a natural object.